2018-02-15 / Front Page

Middletown Seniors Get Breakdown of New Assessments

By Jocelyn O’Neil

Since the completion of the town’s revaluation project, Middletown residents have started to receive notices of the change in the assessed value of their property. In an attempt to educate seniors and head off confusion as to what the assessment means for taxes, Town Council President Robert J. Sylvia scheduled a presentation by the Middletown Tax Assessor, George Durgin.

"We asked the tax assessor here tonight to break down the reval[uation], how it affects [you]… and the percentages…” Sylvia said to the packed room.

“It’s going to be very informative," he said. "You’ll see. Although you may see the valuation that went up, theoretically, it’s not going to affect your taxes like you think it would with that kind of an increase.”

Durgin interpreted the findings of the Northeast Revaluation Group, LLC, which completed the revaluation project. “The average property owner saw a 14.85 percent increase in the value of their home,” Durgin said. “In 2016, the average single-family dwelling value in Middletown was $407,628. In 2017, the average value rose to $466,693.”

Councilor Dennis B. Turano asked Durgin about the people whose houses did not appreciate more than 15 percent and if they would, in fact, be getting a tax decrease. "You can't equate the rise in values to the rise in tax rate,” Durgin said.

He also said that residents wanting to discuss exemptions and tax relief programs can schedule an appointment through the Tax Assessor's office before March 15.

Residents can find information on all exemptions and tax relief programs available through a resource released this month, called the Rhode Island Division of Municipal Finance’s annual guide, which contains every municipal tax program, including all senior tax exemptions and credits offered by all 39 cities and towns in Rhode Island.

“We’ve revised our annual guide to make it easier for Rhode Islanders to learn whether they qualify for any tax-saving benefits from their community,” said Susanne Greschner, chief of the Division of Municipal Finance, in a Feb. 1 press release. “We expect [people] will find this new format easier to read and useful,” she said.

Councilor M. Theresa Santos urged residents to advocate for their elderly relatives who were homeowners, especially those on a fixed income.

"Our population is aging,” Santos said. “Those of you who have parents who are getting older, and if they received a valuation and they are retired [and] living on a limited income… [they] have until March 15 to go into the Tax Assessor’s office and fill out some forms to get help on their taxes.

“Have them do this!" said Santos. “It will bring their tax rate down."

Rhode Island residents who do not qualify for any exemptions still have potential sources of tax relief from municipal programs such as a tax deferral or a tax freeze. All forms can be found on the Middletown town website, middletownri.com.

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