Portsmouth Water and Fire District

Overview of District

The Portsmouth Water and Fire District is a quasi-municipal, governmental agency created in 1952 by act of the Rhode Island General Assembly. The District was created to obtain and maintain for the District a supply of water for the extinguishing of fire and for distribution to the inhabitants of the district, for domestic use and for other purposes. Essentially, the boundaries of the District’s service area include all of Portsmouth on Aquidneck Island with the exception of the area in the southwest corner of town, including Redwood Farms, Bay View Apartments and Condominiums, Raytheon, Melville Navy Housing and the Navy Base, all of which is serviced by Newport Water.

The District is governed by a seven-member Administrative Board, which is elected by the registered voters within the District. The District holds an annual election of officers on the second Wednesday in June. The Board meets on the third Tuesday of every month at 7:00 PM at the District’s main office.

Although the Portsmouth Water and Fire District is not affiliated legally or administratively with the Town of Portsmouth government, the District and Town work cooperatively to best serve their common constituents.


Sources of Income

• Water Sales – Metered water sales account for 73.6% of total revenues.

• Property Taxes – Property taxes on real property account for 13.9% of total revenues.

• Service Charges – Miscellaneous customer service charges account for 2% of total revenues.

• Fire Charges – Fire hydrant charges to the Town of Portsmouth and contractors and private fire service charges account for 5.5% of total revenues.

• Miscellaneous – Miscellaneous revenue including space rental for cellular antennas, interest and other miscellaneous revenue sources account for 5% of total revenues.

Water Bills

The Water Service Bill is mailed quarterly and is due in 30-days. The District bills one-third of its water customers every month based on the following cycles (check your bill to see what cycle you are in):

Cycle 1 March 1 June 1 September 1 December 1
Cycle 2 January 1 April 1 July 1 October 1
Cycle 3 February 1 May 1 August 1 November 1
Cycle 4 March 1 June 1 September 1 December 1

Typical quarterly water bills for various amounts of residential water consumption are shown below:

Usage in Gallons Water Bill Usage in Gallons Water Bill
10,000 $118 25,000   $300
15,000 $179 30,000   $360
20,000 $239 35,000   $421

Property Tax Bills

Property taxes are billed annually in late October and are due on December 1.

The District tax rate is $0.23 per thousand dollars of assessed value. The District property tax, although based on the Town of Portsmouth assessed property values, is separate from the Town of Portsmouth taxes. Typical tax bills for various assessed values are shown below:

Assessed Value District Tax Assessed Value District Tax
$100,000 $23 $400,000 $92
$200,000 $46 $500,000 $115
$300,000 $69 $600,000 $138

The District’s property tax is treated like any other municipal property tax with regard to federal income tax deductions.

About the District Tax

The statutory authority for the Portsmouth Water and Fire District property tax lies in Section 10 of the District’s enabling legislation. In essence, like most other water and fire districts in Rhode Island, the District has been granted taxing authority to be used as necessary to create, operate and maintain a water supply system to supply water for domestic use and fire protection within the District.

While the property taxes provide only thirteen (13.9%) percent of the District’s total annual revenue, the tax is an important component of the District’s fiscal management plan and equitable rate making strategy. The rationale for maintaining a District property tax is:

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