The Woonsocket Budget Commission voted to advance $12 million in state aid to Woonsocket Schools from 2013 this morning at City Hall, allowing the district to pay its current creditors at the cost of next year's education funding.
Officials said that while the move solves the immediate problem of unpaid vendors, it also makes balancing the city's future budget harder.
Commissioner Peder Schaefer said the move would take the pressure off the commission, but RI Director of Revenue Rosemary Booth Gallogly and Council President John Ward, also a commission member, said they didn't see it that way.
Gallogly said she saw it as an opportunity to make sure the school department's vendors got paid, but the funds would still come out of the town's state aid for April, May and June of FY 2013, which they'll have to budget for.
Schaefer said that would put the FY 2013 deficit at $13 million, but Ward noted it would be more like $15 million, and that's only if the city freezes cost of living adjustments (COLAs) for retirees. Ward said the move actually adds pressure to the board's task.
Superintendent of Schools Giovanna Donoyan suggested that the first vendors to be paid from the state aid advancement should be tuition based vendors, such as St. Mary's School of Cranston and Northern Rhode Island Community Health Services.
City Finance Director Thomas Bruce said all the schools' vendors would be paid, now it's just a matter of when. Also, he said, the Commission will sign off on each check.
The Commission also voted to postpone a decision on recalling another four teachers, which would bring the total number of educators recalled from layoffs to 67. Commissioner Dina Dutremble said the Commission would have better information on whether the city could afford to offer the four teachers positions by Thursday.