On June 3, Charlestown voters will be asked to turn out for the town’s budget referendum.
Included in the town’s budget is a $3 million “blank check” for construction, supposedly for a “community center” in Ninigret Park, even though Charlestown already has a community center in the park.
The Charlestown Democratic Town Committee (CDTC) voted unanimously to oppose this budget because the Town Council, dominated by the Charlestown Citizens Alliance (CCA), chose to use a rare $3 million surplus to fund an unnecessary project with no plan or detail.
The CDTC noted the existing community center is in fine condition but is underused.
Why commit $3 million to a new community center when we could use those funds to give working families in Charlestown some well-deserved tax relief? That $3 million is OUR money, not toy money to be used for some CCA slush fund. The CCA proposal is devoid of detail — we don’t know if they are even aware of the existing community center.
Returning the $3 million to the taxpayers by lowering taxes is just one of many ways that money could be better used. Our police department needs more support. We could help recruit and retain more volunteer firefighters by offering them a property tax credit like several other Rhode Island towns such as Jamestown and Bristol. Instead, the CCA is asking voters to put their hard-earned money into a vague and unneeded pipe dream.
If Charlestown voters reject the proposed town budget on June 3, the town will operate on its existing budget until the budget is rewritten and approved.
The smart thing to do is vote to reject the budget on June 3. Make them rewrite it to either lower taxes by $3 million or come up with a more sensible plan that will benefit the taxpayers.
The writer is the chairwoman of the Charlestown Democratic Town Committee.