December 15, 2017

Taxes and More Taxes Revisited, Hirings and Firings, and Water Rate Increases

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Taxes and More Taxes Revisited
According to the October 2017 East Providence Reporter, City Manager Tim Chapman proposed a 2.16% tax increase, presumably in property tax (but perhaps also in car tax), the East Providence Reporter not always being specific in its coverage of such matters. “Fortunately”, the November 2017 reported that the City Council pared down the increase to 1.48%, after also considering a rate increase of 2.49%. Although translated into dollars and cents, this is not a huge increase, still in terms of increase upon increase year after year, it has long since become a major burden for “townies”.

I would say Thank you/Obrigado/Gracias, but in and of itself without taking into account any other additions to the cost of living, the increase in our Medicare D premiums for 2018 has already more than offset the piddling 2.2% announced increase in our 2018 Social Security and the proportionately far less cost-of-living increases in our other annuities. Furthermore, we are still reeling from the 44.1% increase in our car tax for 2016 (on the same vehicle as for 2014 and 2015), an increase that to the best of my knowledge was imposed without forewarning or rationalization (choice of word deliberate), and that was hardly offset by the 15.4% reduction for 2017. How much the car tax will be for 2018 apparently has not been announced although I have no doubt that it has already been decided by City of East Providence. Given that huge increase in car tax in absolute as well as relative terms, stop the unwarranted patting yourself on the back City of East Providence for keeping property taxes down during the last five years.

Inasmuch as far too many retirees, including myself and my spouse, live from annuity payment to annuity payment (substitute from paycheck to paycheck in the case of far too many of those who are working for a living) with far too little in the way of savings or investments (through no fault of our own) to offset the continuing increases in the cost of living, especially medical care costs, when are you going to stop taxing us, not necessarily to the point of death, but to the point where we will be forced to relocate to a more tax friendly community and/or state?

I appreciate that firefighters, police, and school teachers need raises to offset the increase in the cost of living, and that our streets and roads as well as our schools are in desperate need of repair and/or replacement, but at whose cost? THE TAXPAYERS. When are we going to receive comparable cost of living increases?

In a word that the City of East Providence probably understands but seldom observes, BASTA! In other words, when is the City of East Providence going to become part of the solution instead of part of the problem?

Hirings and Firings
According to the April 2016 East Providence Reporter, Katherine Waterbury, Director of Human Resources of the City of East Providence was fired on March 4, 2016. As of the August 2016 issue, the dispute between Waterbury and East Providence as to her termination and the financial implications had been resolved. She was eventually reinstated with full pay, but as of October, 2016, remained at home while she and the City were in settlement negotiations. By December, apparently she had returned to work. How much did this cost the City and therefore the taxpayers?

In reference to the then recent firing of City Manager Richard Kirby, the September 2016 East Providence Reporter reported that the City had “known four managers in five years.” How much did their termination processes, resultant legal disputes, and settlements cost the City and therefore the taxpayers? This report was amended in the October 2016 issue because the due process had not been observed. Apparently Kirby was only suspended in August, not that the outcome differed. Kirby was still fired or should I have said, fired again? How much did this cost the City and therefore the taxpayers?

In one of those ironic twists of fate, as of March 2017, the East Providence Reporter reported that Waterbury herself along with the City of East Providence was being sued, this time by Lita Garrett, a City employee for alleged harassment and retaliation. The March 2017 issue also reported that Kirby was still trying to be reinstated. How much did Garrett’s firing and Kirby’s ongoing attempt to regain his position cost the City and therefore the taxpayers?

Water Rate Increases
Although the fixed charge for water usage, approved as of May 2, 2017, is not increasing by all that much, by approximately only 0.034%, effective January 1, 2017, the water usage fee will increase by 8.64%. Thank you/Obrigado/Gracias City of East Providence and also Thank you East Providence Reporter for not informing us by how much in your September 2017 issue. Also not incidentally, why is it that the East Providence Reporter never reports the costs of the City’s hirings, firings, and rehirings? Perhaps because the City does not divulge such information?!

Michael T. Hamerly
Rumford

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