PORTSMOUTH – Lynn Krizic arrived in the summer of 2011 to become the town’s new school superintendent – a fresh start after a suburban Chicago school district decided not to renew her contract as superintendent.
She came with a doctorate degree from the University of Illinois and a vanity plate from the state of Illinois trumpeting that accomplishment: DOC LSK 1.
A year and a half later, Krizic still has her 2003 Saab 2.3 Turbo registered in Illinois, despite a Rhode Island law that says she has 30 days to change registrations after moving here. We caught up with Krizic as she arrived for work in the Saab the week before Christmas.
Krizic: ”You know I just haven’t changed (the license plates) out yet. My husband travels extensively; he’s been renewing the insurance from afar and I just haven’t changed those out yet.”
Hummel: “It’s been 18 months, though.”
Krizic: “I know it has; I know it’s been a long time.”
Hummel: “You know the law in Rhode Island says 30 days?”
Krizic: “You know, someone did inform me of that – that I have 30 days once you move here. So yes, it’s obviously something I have to take care of once the new year happens.”
What Krizic didn’t tell us was that the School Committee told her a year ago she needed to change her license plates. David Croston, the newly elected chairman, tells the Hummel Report the committee gave her a warning, then said it was a personal matter for her to take care of.
Krizic, who lived in Portsmouth for her first year in Rhode Island, did register for the 2012 beach season in Little Compton, where she moved six months ago.
We found the sticker on her Illinois license plate expired last April and the windshield sticker in the city of Elmhurst, Illinois, where she lived before coming to Portsmouth, also out of date.
Elmhurst does not charge property taxes on cars.
Hummel: “You know that your plates even in Illinois are expired.”
Krizic: “Actually they’re not expired; my sticker is at home, it is not expired. If you go into the system my plates have been renewed.”
Two days after our interview, a current sticker appeared on her car, which is parked across from Town Hall in front of the School Administration building – one of the most public intersections in town. Portsmouth’s police chief told The Hummel Report last month that if Krizic doesn’t register in 30 days, his department will take action.
The law addressing out-of-state plates has come into sharper focus since the General Assembly eliminated its car tax subsidy several years ago, putting an added tax burden on most Rhode Island motorists, including some with older cars who haven’t had to pay any car tax for years.
And at least one community has begun to crack down. The tax assessor in Barrington two months ago began visiting places in town – like the high school parking lot – where out-of-state vehicles being driven by residents were appearing regularly. The assessor has sent letters to the owners, encouraging them to get registered before the town notifies the police.
Krizic downplayed the revenue the car tax generates as a funding mechanism for Portsmouth schools.
Krizic: “You know the car taxes that everybody pays in Portsmouth are not going to have any impact on our state aid. Our state aid is based on a formula, based on students, based on free and reduced lunch, and even if the town of Portsmouth – if they bought 10 cars and paid taxes on those 10 cars it would not increase our state aid here.”
Hummel: “It wouldn’t increase your state aid, but it’s the amount you’re paying locally the people in Portsmouth pick up, right?”
Krizic: “You know, I really do appreciate this opportunity to talk to you and I don’t really know where this conversation is going.”
Hummel: “Well, the fact is there are people who pay property taxes because they have to register their car 30 days after they move here. Your car is not registered in Rhode Island, you’re not paying taxes on that car, and that affects the local budget. Would you agree with all of that?”
Krizic: “Indirectly maybe, but not directly. It does not affect our budget directly.”
Krizic is mid-way through a three-year contract that pays her $145,000 a year, plus an $8,000 annual expense account.
Last week Krizic was back to work after the Christmas vacation and still had not registered her car in Rhode Island.
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