Open Space Tax Implications are Positive

The following letter appeared in local newspapers and is shared with us here by the author Ruth Platner. Ms. Platner is Chair of the Charlestown Planning Commission.

Electing Independent Charlestown Town Council candidates Tom Gentz, Virginia Lee, Denise Rhodes, George Tremblay, and Bonnie Van Slyke is important to our tax rate, our economy, and to our environment.

The candidates running as Democrats for Town Council sent out a mailer this week claiming that open space protection translates into a loss of revenues for Charlestown.

Contrary to the claim of the Charlestown Democratic Town Committee, loss of open space to residential development unequivocally leads to higher tax rates. This was borne out by an economic study, “Land Conservation, Development and Property Taxes in Rhode Island”, funded by the EPA and reviewed by planners, economists and other experts.

While residential development does, indeed, lead to an increase in municipal income from property taxes, that increase is far offset by added expenses for municipal services, primarily for education. In other words, preservation of open space helps to keep property taxes lower.

Block Island, Little Compton, and Charlestown are among the towns with the lowest tax rates in Rhode Island. What these towns have in common are large amounts of protected open space. Not only do these protected tracts of land reduce the tax rate, but they also stimulate the local economy by attracting a seasonal recreational colony and inviting tourism.

Charlestown should continue the practice of raising open space funding through voter approved bonding and then being ready for open space opportunities when they arise.

Electing Independent candidates Tom Gentz, Virginia Lee, Denise Rhodes, George Tremblay, and Bonnie Van Slyke will help keep Charlestown green, both on the land and in our wallets.

These CCA-sponsored candidates support holding the line on our tax rate, enhancing our economy, and using state and local voter approved bonding to protect our environment by identifying and preserving suitable parcels of open space to protect the rural character and tourist attraction that is Charlestown. Charlestown’s beautiful clean beaches, ponds, and forests are our tourism magnet.

Ruth Platner

Ruth is the current Chair of the Charlestown Planning Commission and has been involved in land use issues in Charlestown for over 20 years.