It is time to set the record straight. The Charlestown Town Council FULLY SUPPORTS our veterans! We all recognize the selfless sacrifices our military residents have made to protect our country and citizens.
In January 2018, after Stephen Williams abruptly resigned from the Charlestown Town Council, I took over the initiative to increase the veterans tax credit exemption from $150 to $250. At our March 12, 2018, meeting, the Town Council voted unanimously in favor of this increase, and a resolution was sent to the Rhode Island Legislature.
Special enabling legislation from the legislature was passed in late June and sent to the governor. The legislation allowed Charlestown to change all tax assessment exemptions to tax credit exemptions in all categories.
Thus, Charlestown residents now have transparency and the ability to review with accuracy the tax credit exemptions. Prior practice required an individual to manually calculate his or her assessment exemption using assessed value and the tax rate.
The staff at Town Hall and our town solicitor have been diligently working to implement the numerous updates to ensure each eligible Charlestown veteran receives an equitable and accurate tax credit adjustment to their property taxes. Because the legislation was passed in late June and the tax credits also need to be funded, the earliest the adjustment can occur is fiscal year 2019.
To say I am appalled and disheartened by the assertions made by Stephen Williams would be an understatement! Prior to any discussion on the veterans tax credit increase, advisory opinions were requested from the Rhode Island Board of Ethics for Councilors Lee, Van Slyke, and even Williams, because any actions taken could have been construed as a monetary gain for them.
As those who attend our monthly Town Council meetings can attest, we support, acknowledge and welcome our veterans. At our meetings, I salute the American flag proudly and say the Pledge of Allegiance. Because I come from a military family with members who have served in all branches, I know what it means to be a veteran and the extraordinary sacrifices that are given in the name of patriotism!
Although I disagree with the statements made in his letter, I still have the utmost respect for Ret. Lt. Col. Stephen J. Williams, USMC. Thank you for your service.
Denise L. Rhodes
The writer is a member of the Charlestown Town Council.