Glocester council finalizes budget; Voters to weigh in May 23

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GLOCESTER – The Glocester Town Council approved the 2024 budget at their meeting on Thursday, May 4. Now it will go to voters for final approval on Tuesday, May 23.

Basically, the $25,089,680 final total will translate into a 3.98 percent increase over last year’s budget resulting in a tax rate of $12.93 per $1,000 property value. With the recent reevaluation in place, however, it is hard to tell exactly how that will impact individual property taxes in town.

“I don’t have a good answer,” said Council Vice President Stephen Arnold. “Some will go down, some will go up, some will stay the same. There is really no broad stroke statement. It depends on the new assessed value. No one’s value went down.”

“The tax bills will not necessarily drop,” added Jessica Parker, Glocester’s tax assessor. “The tax rate, however, is a different story. The result of a sales analysis performed by Vision Government Solutions for our updated revaluation determined that assessments needed to come up to be more in line with the market. When assessments across town go up, the tax rate must come down. The reverse is also true; if the assessments are down, the tax rate will go up.”

Parker added that the final rate would be close to the estimates given, although the tax rate could go as high as $13-$14 per $1,000 for residential, depending on final figures and approval of the current budget proposal.

State law limits the amount tax budget appropriations can increase from one year to the next to 4 percent. In order to stay under that limit, the council and the Budget Board made a number of cuts in budgets in a variety of areas across the board. That included eliminating requests for a police car, an aerial lift truck, a six-wheel truck with a sander and plow, and town-wide security cameras in the municipal budget. One new police vehicle was approved, along with several other vehicles for the public works department. Glocester Schools saw a 0 percent increase, while Foster Glocester Regional included a 3 percent increase.

At the meeting, resident David Steere questioned the council’s transfer of $433,203 from the town’s contingency fund in order to help cover a shortfall in this year’s budget. He warned that this might be setting a dangerous precedent for future budgets.

Arnold said that the transfer was done with guidance from the state. He later explained that the shortfall was a result of a computerized auditing error. Last year’s tax rate was $18.66 per $1,000, but should have been $19 per $1,000, resulting in the shortfall.

He added that he wasn’t aware of it happening before, but that it, “probably happens all the time,” with municipal budget calculations.

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