HOPKINTON—The town council plans to give taxpayers a further break on their tax bill with the recent funds freed up by the Chariho School District. The Chariho School Committee reduced its budget by $155,000 at a recent meeting, essentially returning $55,831 back to Hopkinton’s fiscal year 2013-2014 budget.
The town council met in a budget workshop Monday night to discuss the use of the funds.
Added back into the budget, the funds will lower Hopkinton’s tax rate from $20.12 to $20.06. There was no vote taken since it was a workshop, but the council was in consensus and grateful for the reduction for taxpayers.
Hopkinton’s total contribution to Chariho is now nearly $18.8 million, according to Town Manager William McGarry.
Shortly after they began their regular meeting, the town council unanimously approved an amendment to the tax code, something that will also provide a break for taxpayers. The amendment, introduced and sponsored by Council President Frank Landolfi, allows the town to waive interest on one quarter of a taxpayer’s overdue tax bill. There was a public hearing on the amendment March 4. Each of the council members expressed support at the hearing and before the vote.
“It’s working with people who have a good record paying their taxes,” Councilor Scott Bill Hirst said.
Landolfi was pleased the amendment had come together and said he wanted to “try and do something for the taxpayers that had a minimal expense for the town.”
The consent agenda also passed unanimously, without the minutes from the March 4 meeting, as the minutes weren’t ready, and without the Feb. 27 budget workshop notes, due to a request from Landolfi.
Landolfi wanted the notes changed to reflect that the council did not have a full consensus not to fund the Domestic Violence Resource Center, but that he and Vice President Sylvia Thompson had concurred on a small amount of funding for the nonprofit.
The town manager updated the council on other town business during his report.
The town’s department heads met March 7 at the Hopkinton Police Department, McGarry told the council, where they discussed annual goals. He said the meeting typically gives department heads a chance to be updated on pending matters and allows for discussion on town-wide projects and goals. McGarry did not list specific agenda items, but said they were numerous.
McGarry also told the council that during the first week of March, he and Public Works Director Tim Teft drafted a request for proposals (RFP) for the chip sealing of approximately 63,000 yards of town roads to be done this year.
He said the project is expected to cost the town $110,000, which will be funded through the road resurfacing and restoration allowed for in the town’s Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) for the current fiscal year.
Canonchet Road, Lawton Foster Road, Kenny Hill Road, Michael Lane and Wincheck Pond Road are among those tentatively scheduled for the work, McGarry told the council.
During the second week of March, McGarry told the council, he and Teft also drafted RFPs for mid-grade gasoline, diesel fuel, propane gas, No. 2 fuel oil and HVAC services for fiscal year 2013 through fiscal year 2016, extending the current two-year bids to three-year bids.
The staff will solicit all six bids and review them before recommendations for approval are given to the town council.
The Hopkinton Police Department also received a $1,000 Safety Enhancement Grant from The Rhode Island Interlocal Risk Management Trust (The Trust), McGarry said. The grant will be used for the purchase of audio visual equipment for in-service training.
He also told the council about the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Disaster Relief Grant that he and Town Planner Jim Lamphere plan to apply for. The grant is related to Super Storm Sandy and allows cities and towns to purchase “urgently needed equipment” so they are positioned to “respond better for future emergencies.” The desired use of the grant, if awarded, would be to purchase two generators, one for town hall and one for the Crandall House, McGarry explained.
The town council awarded Vision Government Solutions a bid in the amount of $139,500 for the full reassessment and revaluation of taxable and exempt real property in Hopkinton, though it wasn’t the lowest bid.
Tax Assessor Christine Brochu spoke to the council, explaining that the two bids were not “apples to apples” and that Vision Government Solutions’ bid included unlimited litigation.
The lower bid from Northeast Revaluation Group at $122,000 had put “limited litigation” in their bid and “did not satisfy some of the education that was required in the RFP,” according to Brochu.
Brochu had researched the bids and sat down with the two bidders, according to McGarry.
The last three revaluations were done by Certified Revaluation Company (CRC), which, according to McGarry was purchased by Vision Government Solutions.
Brochu told the council that CRC’s staff is now at Vision, giving the town “extra security.” She said they also use Vision Government Solutions for the tax collector and the building department.
The council, after some discussion, also voted to pass a resolution opposing House Bill 5425 and House Bill 5703 and requested a letter be sent to the governor, their legislators, and the speaker of the house and president of the senate reflecting their opposition.