The Block Island Times

Council proposes taxing vehicles that have lower value

Additional revenue would be part of $12 million town budget
By Stephanie Turaj | Apr 21, 2013

The Town Council has proposed that vehicles registered in the town with a value above $1,000 should be taxed. Currently, motor vehicles valued above $6,000 are taxed.

“I think it would be a good source of revenue,” said Town Councilor Norris Pike at the April 8 council meeting. The proposed tax is estimated to add $60,000 to the town’s 2014 revenue.

Reaction was mixed.

Island resident and cab driver Les Slate said the tax amount is “no big deal.”

“I obviously don’t like that,” said resident Joshua Weisz-Smith.

Island resident Kim Runyon said she has an old car, but she “would not be that affected” by the tax. “I think the town should do it,” she said.

The change would bring the total number of auto tax bills to 1,265, affecting an additional 482 island residents, according to Town Finance Director Amy Land. The tax would apply to cars, trucks, trailers and mopeds, but not to boats. Residents would have to pay tax on the car’s value above $1,000 — and would pay $9.75 for every $1,000 of valuation.

As an example, the owner of a vehicle worth $2,000 would be taxed $19.50. But if a vehicle is valued at $1,800, the owner would pay the appropriate percentage of the $9.75 — which would be $7.80 in vehicle taxes to the town.

There will be a public hearing on this proposal on May 15. If approved, the proposed tax will then appear on the town warrant during the May 6 budget hearing.

Council approves proposed budget

In a 4-1 vote, the Town Council approved the approximate $12 million 2014 fiscal year budget at a Monday, April 15, meeting. Town voters will vote on the budget at the town financial meeting on Monday, May 6.

Town Councilor Sean McGarry voted against the budget. At a previous council meeting, he had proposed that the town bond various capital expenditures. His motion had failed in a 1-4 vote.

“The proposal to bond the capital tax would decrease taxes,” said McGarry. “It would add a whole load of infrastructure improvements.”

In the $12,141,327 budget, town taxpayers would contribute $8,612,958 — the maximum 4 percent tax levy increase allowed by state law.

There is slightly more than $1 million in administration costs included in the budget. The administration budget includes a variety of town expenses, most significantly property and flood insurance, clerk wages and town consultant costs.

Property and flood insurance costs are projected to increase by 27 percent over last year, to $248,344. Island resident Pete Tweedy, who works as a tax consultant for private businesses, suggested that the town put the insurance policies out to bid to make sure that prices are competitive.

Town Manager Nancy Dodge said that the town has not recently put the policies out to bid. However, she said the town performed a price comparison last year and did not find a less expensive option.

The Medical Center is slated to receive a $37,000 funding increase over last year, totaling $123,800.

The Block Island School received its request of $4.5 million in town support — an approximate $100,000 increase from last year.

Library expenses may increase from last year by $42,624, totaling $468,776. The amount includes ongoing and one-time property maintenance.

The budget also sees a $53,659 increase in recreation costs, totaling $353,041.

Technology expenses are proposed at $139,688, an 11 percent increase over last year.

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