September 1, 2014
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The Taxpayers' Spin
Potential taxpayer comments after receiving new tax bills
Robert Cushman

With new motor vehicle and property tax bills just arriving in Warwick homes and businesses, and water and sewer bills soon to turn up with increased rates, here are some off the cuff comments I believe you could hear from frustrated taxpayers:
My 20-year-old Buick has 170,000 miles on it and the city is taxing me $50? I can’t believe it. When will that car become tax free, when it becomes an antique? Hey, what the hell happened to all those rental car company vehicles parked at the airport garage a few months ago? The place seems awfully empty now. Did the mayor or City Council really think about the economic impact on these companies and the fact that they could move vehicles out of Warwick to save tax dollars? Just another shortsighted move by our politicians. And we wonder why Rhode Island is ranked dead last, number 50, in the country for the top states to do business. Are they kidding, I got a motor vehicle tax on my scooter? I had better keep my son’s go-cart in the garage. I just got five separate motor vehicle tax bills for my family. How about this novel approach to save tax dollars – consolidate them all into one mailing.
I haven’t had a raise in three years, yet I have to pay new taxes so all city union and administrative employees can get a raise. It’s bad enough that my neighborhood is a mess, but the fact that not a single dime of these new taxes will go toward improvements makes me think that something is wrong in City Hall. I guess it’s about time I get involved in the political process and vote next year.
My daughter just came home with the same history book I had when I was in school. She asked me if Ronald Reagan is still president. I wish! With the school budget level-funded four out of the last five years and its spending below 2008 levels, 100 percent of this tax increase is going toward city spending, just like last year. If the city budget was level-funded, there wouldn’t be a tax increase. What a pleasant surprise, my son in kindergarten understands basic math. Maybe I should loan him to the city finance department so they can calculate the correct tax rate at the budget hearing when the public is present and not two weeks later behind closed doors. Something is wrong when one person gets to decide what to tax or not to tax. Did we elect a mayor or the King of Warwick?
The value of my house has dropped 40 percent in the last three years, yet my property taxes keep increasing. I had to cut my family’s budget when my income dropped. Why can’t city officials do the same thing and stop the tax increases? My wife and I haven’t had an increase in our Social Security benefits in three years and our cost for health care coverage continues to rise. Yet, the city is imposing new taxes on our cars and home to help cover automatic cost of living increases for many retired city workers. If this keeps up, we will soon have to sell our house.
With water rates continuing to increase, I am thinking of installing artificial turf in the front yard. Is it true that the finance committee’s rubber stamp has worn out and all future meetings have been cancelled since no one on the committee is doing anything to question city spending, never mind trying to reduce it?
Even though the mayor, City Council and the School Committee all voiced disapproval for binding arbitration for school teachers, all four Warwick senators voted for it. Do they really care about the effect this would have on city taxpayers?
With the annual sewer rate increases, it may be time to install that Port a-John. What happened to that marijuana factory they were building in Warwick? These taxes are making me sick; I need some kind of relief.

Robert Cushman ( is a former Warwick City Councilman and former school committee Chairman.

1 comment on this item

It is hard to handle paying taxes on vehicles in a dollar amount that you couldn't hope to receive if you traded it in or sold it privately. We understand shared sacrifice but I don't think any citizen of Warwick realized you were going to balance the budget by breaking our backs.

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