Published on Oct. 15 at 10:12 p.m., edited for clarification purposes on Oct. 16 at 9:29 p.m.
During a brief meeting Tuesday night, the Central Coventry Fire District Board of Directors ratified a proposed tax rate and voted on whether to utilize a tiered taxation system within the district.
Board members unanimously voted in favor of a residential tax rate of $2.50 per $1,000 of property valuation. Also approved was a tiered taxation system to differentiate between residential and commercial property, resulting in a commercial rate of $3.75 per $1,000 of valuation. The rates will be proposed to Judge Brian P. Stern Wednesday morning in Kent County Superior Court before being presented to taxpayers during an informational meeting on Thursday night in preparation for the Oct. 21 vote.
In an attempt to recoup some revenue never collected by the district due to a large ($217K) accounting error repeated in the form of level-funded budgets for three years, taxpayers received bills this year that reflected an updated rate of $2.86 per $1,000, compared to the insufficient rate of $1.82 used previously.
If passed by voters Monday night (using the example of a property assessed at $100,000), residential tax bills with a rate of $2.50 would decrease from those sent previously by approximately $36 annually, while commercial bills at $3.75 per $1,000 would increase by about $89.
If taxpayers vote against the proposed fiscal 2013-2014 budget and tax rate on Oct. 21, recent legislation introduced by Rep. Scott Guthrie (D-Dist. 27, Coventry), 2013-H 6101, would allow the fire district to operate using the same amounts appropriated in the previous fiscal year. As the district was level-funded over the past three years, the rates would originate from the district's 2010 appropriation.
According to the Board's budget summary, if CCFD was forced to utilize the previous figures, residential taxpayers would see a $2.70 rate per $1,000, while commercial taxpayers would see a rate of $4.05. Editor's Note: It is currently unclear if these tiered figures would be consistent with the law, as the fire district was not authorized to use more than one tax rate at the time.
"It's important to remember that a 'no' vote to the Board's budget is an automatic 'yes' vote to the fallback budget, which is going to be a higher amount," said Board President Fred Gralinski.
The Board's tax rate proposal will be heard in Kent County Superior Court (222 Quaker Ln., Warwick) on Tuesday, Oct. 16 at 9:30 a.m. CCFD taxpayers are urged to attend Thursday's informational session, scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Town Hall Annex on Flat River Road, and bring with them any questions they may have in order to make an informed decision when it comes time to vote next Monday.
Editor's Note: Originally this article stated that board member Helen Quinn voted against the ratification of tax rates. It has since been corrected to reflect Quinn's objection to the motion to vote, requesting clarification of the tax rate figures before casting her vote. The Board unanimously voted in favor of ratifying the rates.