By Mark Schwager
The views expressed are my own and are not an official communication from the Town Council or Town of East Greenwich.
The adoption of the annual town budget is a major milestone in a Town Council’s calendar. It is even more significant this year as we are coming out of the coronavirus pandemic. As a community we have been through a difficult year. Each of us has their own stories and experiences of how they were impacted living through the pandemic. It is something we will remember for our lifetimes.
Thankfully, East Greenwich is a resilient community. Things are looking much brighter today, compared to one year ago. Virus infections are declining rapidly and our town vaccination rate leads the state. Our schools and businesses are open at full capacity. Families with children are moving into East Greenwich, and the people who moved here in the past to raise their families are staying in town to continue to enjoy our community. Businesses want to come to our Main Street and Route 2 commercial areas.
Our town budget this year reflects a very strong financial position for our community. We have added back town staff reduced during budgeting for the pandemic; our first responders in the police and fire departments are fully staffed; we should be able to grow our reserve funds this year which allows us to obtain bonds at the lowest possible rates when we need to improve our school and town facilities. Our school department has put together a strong educational program for the coming year and is about to complete their new 5 year strategic plan. We are undertaking a study to identify new community uses for our waterfront, and keeping Greenwich Cove clean with upgrades to our wastewater treatment facility. New growth in town has allowed us to fund our budget with minimal impact on residential property taxes. The average home in East Greenwich is appraised at $500,000 and this year its owner would pay $30 more in property taxes than last year. Over half of the home owners in town will pay less than $100 more in property taxes this year.
There are many good things going on in East Greenwich, and I’m looking forward to working with my colleagues in local government, our town staff and members of our community to continue to make EG a great place to live, work and raise a family.
Mark Schwager is president of the East Greenwich Town Council.