Don’t stay home on June 7
Having spent a glorious Sunday walking at Ft. Getty and picnicking at Mackerel Cove, I thought I should offer my opinion regarding next week’s Financial Town Meeting.
Jamestowners are certainly fortunate to be able to live in such a beautiful community. To a great degree, our shared beauty is the result of prudent decisions made by administrations, town councils and school committees over the years.
We have acquired property that is available to the public for active and passive recreation. Imagine the golf course as 75 houses, imagine the Shores with every lot developed and imagine if the center island farms were still threatened. None of this is the case, due to the vision and prudent economic practices of the past. We have been able to maintain all of this character due to the “balance” that has been the norm in Jamestown for as long as I have lived here and many years before.
Our community’s infrastructure is all first-rate. Public water and sewer systems are up to date, award winning and unlike our sister communities on Aquidneck Island, not in need of 80, or $150, or even more millions of dollars of upgrade to meet minimum federal standards for public health. All of this positive is again due to the “balance” that has been the standard of past practices.
Recently, Jamestown’s bond rating was increased. Due to factors such as our healthy undesignated fund balance, and our lack of any pension liability, the bond counsel, as well as the banks, believe that Jamestown is a very good risk. Once again, a prudent economic program has allowed us to maintain that all-important “balance.” As we start the process of moving to green energy, our ability to borrow at favorable rates will serve us well.
I believe as Jamestown moves into the future, our community needs to continue this “balance,” so that we may continue to improve our assets and take advantage of opportunities that may present themselves in our efforts to continue maintaining our rural character.
None of what has taken place or will take place is free. Even with the help of organizations like the Champlain Foundation, the state of Rhode Island and the federal government, we have to pay our fair share. I believe we must continue to do so.
Jamestown, along with Little Compton and New Shoreham, has had the lowest tax rates in Rhode Island. This has been true for quite some time. When we balance our tax rate with our property values, our effective rate is still one of the three lowest in the state. Individuals who claim that our taxes are too high need only to look at other communities and compare.
One of the issues that the Town Council looks at is the collection rate for our taxes. Over the last eight years at least, our collection rate has been in the high nineties, again better than many other communities. The vast majority of people in Jamestown can and do pay their taxes.
All of this may be threatened on the evening of June 7. A number of warrants have been sought, the purpose of which is to reduce our community’s tax liability. I think what I hear is “big government is bad government.”
I don’t buy it!
Jamestown is – and has been – prudently run over the years. It will continue to be so. These attacks on our budget will only upset the “balance” that has existed. Major cuts on either the town side or the school side will have ramifi cations into the future. I hope it doesn’t happen.
I will be in attendance on June 7. I will support the proposed budget. If the citizens of Jamestown stay home that evening, who knows what the result will be?
We owe it to each other to stand and be counted.
The writer is the former president of the Jamestown Town Council.