To the Editor,
Over the last twenty years (including the 2024 proposed budget) Warwick taxpayers will have paid $71.5 million more in property taxes, of which forty-five percent or $32.2 million …
To the Editor,
Over the last twenty years (including the 2024 proposed budget) Warwick taxpayers will have paid $71.5 million more in property taxes, of which forty-five percent or $32.2 million dollars on retired employee benefits.
This Thursday a majority of the city council is posed to pass another irresponsible budget proposed by Mayor Picozzi. A new program will be initiated to set up a retiree employee healthcare trust fund. It will require just about the same amount of new tax dollars ($68 million) in the next nine years, versus the combined tax dollars needed for city services over the last twenty years ($71.5 million). That new $68 million expense alone, on average, will equal a maximum tax increase for the next nine years.
Keep in mind retired employees pay nothing for these gold-plated healthcare benefits. Many seniors living on a fixed income told me that they will be paying $500 or more in property taxes this year, in addition to thousands for their own healthcare plans.
Warwick has more retired employees receiving this benefit than active employees. More than half of those individuals are under 65 years old. Many have other jobs and are receiving a city pension, yet Mayor Picozzi and the city council are content with giving them even more.
Think long and hard about that fact. One line item will cost the same amount in new taxes in nine years than it cost to run all municipal programs and services over the last twenty years.
Since becoming mayor, Mr. Picozzi has increased city and school spending $33.3 million in three years. Keep in mind a maximum tax increase brings in $8.5 million annually. That spending averages over $11 million. Once again, the rainy fund must be raided for another $7 million to balance the budget. One-time federal COVID funds used to pay for all this spending has been depleted.
Here is a novel idea. If city leaders are willing to spend $200 million on retired employee healthcare benefits in the next nine years, why not double or triple the $400 tax exemption for the forgotten senior citizens in the city so they can remain in their homes and the city can pay for this by cutting some of these unsustainable employee benefits?
According to my analysis, in the next nine years, with two new high schools on the horizon, Warwick homeowners and businesses will be required to contribute more than twice the amount of new tax dollars, about $180 million, to fund just the city budget in nine years, versus the $71.5 million required over the last twenty years. The taxes that homeowners and businesses will pay will skyrocket. Maximum tax increases are the least taxpayers can expect over those years.
Warwick taxpayers had better start taking notice of what is going on the city. While Christmas lights and a new ice rink are a pleasant distraction, the city is hemorrhaging money. When will Mayor Picozzi and the city council finally level with the taxpayers and let them know how much their property taxes are going to balloon?
Now that the first tsunami wave has hit, residents and small businesses have seen tax increases ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars. More massive waves are lurking in the horizon. The question is, no longer will they hit, but how soon they will hit, unless significant changes in the fiscal management of the city are made.