Woonsocket Budget Commission Preparing For Union Talks
Sequino: Most of savings in budget likely to come from benefit negotiations, supplemental tax will also be necessary.
The Woonsocket Budget Commission met briefly this morning, discussing how to lay the groundwork for talks with the city's unions, where Chairman Bill Sequino says the bulk of the panel's cutting will take place.
Once those talks (which will likely begin next week) are finished, Sequino said, the Commission will also have to work to pass a supplemental tax bill. Both cuts and increased tax revenue will be required to solve the city's deficit, Sequino said. "It can't be one or the other," Sequino said.
The savings will have to focus primarily on benefits for the city's union employees, he said, since there is little to cut from the city's budget and the school budget, in the final review stage, is largely finished.
On Thursday, Sequino said, the Budget Commission will meet to assess the situation, which will require gathering all the data on all city employees' benefits: holiday pay, vacation and, retirement and health care. Once they have all that information in one place, Sequino said, they can begin assessing what the city can fairly afford, and what they'll need to cut.
"I think we want to try to keep everybody the same if it's at all possible," Sequino said - equitable with each other, so no one group is getting more than another.
During Monday's meeting, Commission member City Council President John Ward suggested the meeting to figure out what they'd be asking from the unions. "I think the Commission needs to have a sense of the target," Ward said.
"I certainly agree," Sequino said, "The Budget Commission needs to get a game plan."
They'll start putting that together at their next meeting Thursday, 3 p.m., at City Hall.