2018-07-05 / Around Town

New Budget Reflects Increase in School Budget

By James Merolla

When the Newport City Council unanimously approved the 2018- 2019 municipal/school budget on deadline on June 27, figures were released but there was no public discussion as to the reasoning behind the approval.

The numbers to be analyzed were given as follows: City side of Budget: Revenues, $71,034,511. This represents a 2.81 percent increase on the city side. School Budget for FY 2018-2019: $44,726,644. The City appropriation to the schools will be $25,968,779.

Additional expenses taken over by the city, $4,007,721, for a total of $29,976,500. There are van Beuren and other grants totaling $400,000, state revenues of $12,234,009, federal impact aid of $620,000, $75,000 for Jr. ROTC and $310,531 in Medicaid, plus some miscellany bringing the total school appropriation to that $44-plus million figure.

“There is a 1.5 percent increase on the school side of the budget, but remember that the City has taken over a lot of the school bills, building repairs, money for Chromebooks [computers]…,” said City Councilor Kate Leonard in explaining the appropriations. “That is why the City side has gone up [2.81 percent] more than the school side.”

While the Council has given 1.5 percent increases each of the last two years, they could not meet the schools’ demands for 4 percent as the schools desired.

“Their budget is not sustainable at their desired 4 percent a year as requested last year and this year. There needs to be a balance in what taxpayers can afford and what city services and schools are costing,” said Leonard. “The average working family has many expenses to take care of their families: food, utilities, mortgage payments, insurances, vehicle costs, [and more]. We need to keep the middle class here for our city to be vibrant year-round.”

The new lower tax (Mil) rate for residents was set at $9.99 per thousand rate, $14.98 for commercial property. The real estate tax rate for FY2017 was $10.93 per thousand of assessed value for residential property and $15.16 per thousand for commercial property.

Leonard explained how property owners can determine their tax bills that will be due on Aug. 5.

“If you have a house with new assessed value at $500K, you will pay 500 x $9.99 or $4995 in taxes,” she said, applying real value to the figures. “That same house may have been assessed at $400K last year, when the Mil rate was $11.21. Their last tax bill was then $4,484.”

In another example, she said, if you have a house assessed at $700,000, divide by 1,000 then multiply by $9.99 to establish your new home tax rate.

The Newport City website has a complete breakdown of figures and assessment information, as well as how to apply for any tax exemptions or abatements. Visit cityofnewport.com.

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