Kudos to the Charlestown Town Council for proposing to use the budget surplus to build a community center in Ninigret Park. The surplus is a one-time bonus derived from sound fiscal management and a decline in enrollment in the Chariho school system.
The surplus could be used to reduce property taxes, but Charlestown already carries one of the lowest tax burdens in the state, so lowering the tax rate further would be uninspired.
The bonus could be used to pay off bonded debt, but Charlestown is not financially strained by bonded debt. The town already meets or exceeds the recommended 20% rainy-day fund to respond to unanticipated expenses.
Given its exemplary financial security, the town would best repay its residents by using the bonus to improve services. A new community center would offer a wide array of activities to improve year-round recreational opportunities for all residents.
The writer is a past member of the Charlestown Town Council.