BY JOHN HOWELL
Mayor Frank Picozzi announced on Tuesday that the bills will be mailed this week as the state budget for the current fiscal year wasn’t approved until last month and the state reimbursement rate for the car was unknown.
Picozzi apologized for the delay in billing and criticized the previous government for failing to keep bills, as many municipalities did. As it is now, people have until June 15 to pay the bill if they choose to pay more than four installments.
Still, the mayor said the compressed payment schedule could prove difficult for some taxpayers working on a tight budget.
“I know receiving an invoice with such a short time between payments is frustrating, but the payment schedule needs to be completed by the end of June to be part of this year’s budget and receive a reimbursement from the state,” said he in a statement.
But there is a positive one, and the mayor was sure to point it out. As state lawmakers take the next step to abolish the tax, motor vehicle owners will see their bill drop by an average of 11 percent.
The city’s finance director, Peder Schaefer, said that two of the three factors aiming to get rid of the motor vehicle excise tax are affecting the city’s bills. Those who are taxed on their cars – many have already been removed from the tax list because exemptions are greater than the value of their vehicles – will see a decrease in their vehicle’s appraised value. You can also expect an increase in exemption. What won’t change is the tax rate of $ 34.60 per $ 1,000 valuation. As part of the exit plan, the threshold for the interest rate fell to $ 35 this year, Schäfer said.
He said auto tax revenue is expected to bring in $ 17 million. Additionally, the state will pay the city approximately $ 9.5 million, but only after the city has bills and payments are received.
“Warwick is the largest road tax [receipts] in the state, ”said Schäfer.
When asked about the city’s overall financial situation, Schäfer said that the city was lagging behind in collecting budgeted tax revenues due to the expected delay in vehicle tax bills.
“We are behind with cash,” he said.
Schäfer is in the process of evaluating property tax revenues. He forecast that the city will receive more state aid than budgeted for the current fiscal year, partly due to aid related to the pandemic. He estimates that PILOT or Payment in lieu of taxes will cost an additional $ 200,000, vehicle tax an additional $ 1.3 million, and per capita aid an additional $ 600,000 for a total of $ 2.1 million will be.
“Of course,” he wrote in an email, “there will be losses compared to food tax, airport and hotel tax estimates.” We are not here to come up with a final loss estimate, but the additional state aid will go a long way towards eliminating those losses. The state school aid was financed entirely from federal funds. “
On the other side of the ledger – expenses – he identified the fire budget as a problem.
Picozzi said the department had 18 vacancies and overtime costs were higher than planned.
Regarding the audit for the 2020 fiscal year ending June 30, Schäfer said his review of the totals was no dramatic different from Mayor Joseph J. Solomon published prior to leaving office.
While the numbers may be the same, Picozzi said Solomon turned them wrong. He noted that the mayor denounced a city surplus when the city was actually deficient, which was overcome by a school surplus. Schaefer put the city’s deficit at $ 1.3 million for the year and the school surplus at $ 3.2 million with a net surplus of $ 1.9 million.
Schaefer put the total amount of the reserve fund in June last year at $ 31.6 million. He said the city has requested an extension of the audit until March 15, although he doesn’t think it will take that long. He said the pension wealth reports need reconciliation, but he sees no change in the numbers.
The vehicle tax payment schedule is February 15, March 15, May 15 and June 15.
Schäfer noticed that the city could use the money and said: “Hopefully there are those who have decided to pay.” Payments in full should be made by February 15th.