Slight spending increase, but no tax hike in Lombardi budget

Slight spending increase, but no tax hike in Lombardi budget

NORTH PROVIDENCE – Mayor Charles Lombardi’s proposed budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year increases spending by $893,117, mostly on the school side of the ledger, but does not call for a tax increase.

Lombardi called his proposal “a very, very lean budget,” one he said attempts to satisfy all of the town’s needs. “Unfortunately, we can’t satisfy all the wants,” he said.

The mayor added that the spending plan is intended to afford taxpayers the “generous services they’re used to.”

Lombardi was set to present his budget to the Town Council at a meeting Tuesday night, April 3. He said prior to the meeting that he hopes the council will accept the basic parameters of the budget and not add spending to cause a tax increase.

The proposed budget, following up a year where taxpayers saw a 28-cent hike per $1,000 of assessed value, will hopefully help toward the goal of moving North Providence down the list of highest-taxed communities in Rhode Island, said Lombardi. The town is at a disadvantage when it comes to attracting new commercial growth due to over-development, he said.

The mayor said finding cost savings is the best way to keep taxes down going forward. Two ways he saved money this year were by merging the tax assessor and collector offices and taking over the senior center as a municipal department, he said. Once planned bingo revenues are coming in from the center, the town could be saving some $350,000-$400,000 on what it previously cost to run the center, he said.

Town schools are being level-funded on the municipal side of Lombardi’s budget, but he and Controller Maria Vallee said the schools will be receiving an extra $312,000 in additional aid from the state this year. With another $319,000 going to the schools by way of a bond payment, that’s more than $600,000 of the $893,000 overall increase going to education, noted Vallee.

The town continues to do “more with less,” said Lombardi. He said he’s proud of the fact that the town has kept overall expenses as low as they’ve been, given the fact that obligations keep increasing on employment contracts and other fixed costs.

Also Tuesday, Lombardi was planning to meet with another property owner about the possible acquisition of about five acres of land for potential recreational space. After a Breeze story last week on the potential purchase of two other properties, he said another landowner came forward to say that he, too, is looking to sell.

Lombardi said the council will ultimately decide which properties are best to purchase and how to pay for them, whether through a bond or paying for them with reserve funds.