Letter – Fiscal failure by  Town Council

Published 7:02 pm Tuesday, October 17, 2023

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

Smithfield Town Council recent votes associated with fiscal responsibility should have all of us concerned about the decision-making ability of this council and our financial future.  

The rush to approve the Grange at 10Main development, which included a commitment to support the development with millions of taxpayer dollars, despite hearing from many citizens that this was NOT appropriate, demonstrates how fiscally irresponsible this council has become.  Two of the council members seemed to ignore the statements, included in the developer’s fiscal impact study, that the development could not be built as presented (i.e., market, open space, brick sidewalks, utilities, etc.) without a public private partnership – in other words, taxpayer dollars. These expected reimbursements from the developer were over and above the $1.4 million that the town had already committed towards the “farmers market,” which would be housed, along with retail and restaurants, in the anchor structure of the development.  

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The council members refused to even ask the developer, Joe Luter IV, to provide the estimated amounts of the expected taxpayer contributions/reimbursement. Luter IV acknowledged on multiple occasions he had these estimates – but wouldn’t provide them until after the property had been rezoned.  

Renee Rountree has been the most vocal of the council members in support of the Grange.   Renee also supported a tax rate that would require use of ARPA funds (one-time federal funds) and would make the town budget for the year revenue-neutral. This would not only give us all a false sense of what our annual property tax assessment will be; it wouldn’t provide the town adequate funding to cover unexpected or increased expenses for the upcoming year.  

We don’t need this type of fiscal decision-making on the five-member Board of Supervisors. I’m writing in the name of Chris Torre as my Board of Supervisor representative for District 1.  


Donna Nurney