State budget crisis washes ashore in Jamestown
Governor Carcieri’s plan announced this week to make up the state budget shortfall by saving $71.4 million in state expenses may hit Jamestowners in the pocketbook.
In addition to shutting down state government for 12 days, the governor said he wants to cancel promised reimbursement to cities and towns.
Town Administrator Bruce Keiser said Wednesday that Jamestown could lose $105,536 if the state withholds the final quarter payment of the motor vehicle tax reimbursement. That amount is in addition to $130,000 in state funding that has already been trimmed from the current town budget.
What can Jamestown do to make up for the latest expected budget shortfall?
Keiser said that question will have to be debated by the Town Council. He believes the town has the following choices, among others:
• Hold a financial town meeting and ask the voters to approve a supplemental tax bill. Keiser estimates the cost to the taxpayer would be $12 for each vehicle that is registered in Jamestown.
• Trim $105,536 from the current town budget. Keiser said that savings could be achieved through a reduction in town employees or a furlough of town employees.
Of course, the easiest thing to do is to have everyone in Jamestown who owns a vehicle pay an additional $12 to the town.
The General Assembly used federal stimulus money as a bandage for the current state budget. That money won’t be available again in another year. One also has to realize that in the next budget cycle the state may cut out all motor vehicle reimbursement to Jamestown. Then, it will cost each vehicle owner an additional $48 per year.
Trimming the town budget now could be the best alternative as the state may again renege on its payments to the town in 2010-2011.
Jamestown has some tough choices ahead.
— Jeff McDonough