Can the New Fiscal Stabilization Act Be Used to Exceed the Rhode Island Property Tax Cap?

Monique asks a question about the state’s new “fiscal stabilization” procedures…

In view of the fact that receivership involves entities that are bankrupt, i.e., that lack sufficient money to operate and/or pay their debts, did lawmakers identify the source that would fund these inexplicably inviolable contracts?
Actually, in the new law, there are two-steps that precede the receivership stage. In the first stage, a fiscal overseer is appointed by the state. A mayor and/or city or town council retain most of their authority, but the state’s Director of Revenue gets a final (non-overrideable) veto over the municipal budget…
The division of municipal finance shall ascertain whether the budget for that fiscal year contains reasonable revenues from taxation and other sources to meet the appropriations and other amounts required by law to be raised, and the division of municipal finance shall report its conclusion to the director of revenue. If the director of revenue determines that the municipal budget as presented does not contain reasonable revenues from taxation and other sources to meet appropriations and other amounts required by law to be raised, the director of revenue shall certify this determination in writing…and notify the city or town that its tax levy has not been approved and that the city or town is not authorized to mail or otherwise transmit tax bills to city or town taxpayers. If the director of revenue has made the foregoing determination, the city or town shall prepare a revised budget for review and approval by the director of revenue.
Note the bias in the phrasing of the law — the potential problem is a lack of tax revenue to pay for mandated spending, never too much spending to be paid for by appropriated tax revenue.
More importantly however, the act also contains a declaration of its supremacy over all of the other laws of Rhode Island…
45-9-15. Inconsistent provisions. — Insofar as the provisions of this chapter are inconsistent with the provisions of any charter or other laws or ordinances, general, special, or local, or of any rule or regulation of the state or any municipality, the provisions of this chapter are controlling.
So if this law supersedes all others, and if the Director of Revenue decides on a “reasonable revenue” amount that exceeds what can be raised under Rhode Island’s property tax cap, does that then mean that the property tax cap becomes null and void? After all, it’s not like the law is a contract or something.

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Ragin' Rhode Islander
Ragin' Rhode Islander
11 years ago

>>45-9-15. Inconsistent provisions. — Insofar as the provisions of this chapter are inconsistent with the provisions of any charter or other laws or ordinances, general, special, or local, or of any rule or regulation of the state or any municipality, the provisions of this chapter are controlling.
So that would include the statutes re: collective bargaining, step increases and teacher tenure?
Unilaterally making changes to a CBA could result in “breach of contract” / damages, but maybe not since the CBA is with the municipality, not the receiver (or the state).
Also, if nothing else, it could arguably mean that the receiver could refuse to recognize the union(s) at the expiration of the existing contract(s)?

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