City Councilman Marc Dubois, lifelong Woonsocket resident, seeks a second term on the board with a focus on clearing the City's eyesores, pushing for better
The former policeman has spent two years on the City Council after eight on the School Committee, seven and a half of those as chairman. He currently works as a hospital liaison at NRI Community Services, a non-profit community mental health clinic in Woonsocket.
Woonsocket Patch asked each Council candidate a series of questions about their approach to the city's challenges. Here are Dubois' answers:
Assuming the Budget Commission is around for the duration, how would you work with the panel? In my opinion, the budget commission is not trying to work with the City Council to solve our fiscal dilemma. They have the final say over any spending that occurs in the city of Woonsocket. At times, council members have not been allowed to speak at budget commission meetings. The budget commission does not care what the city council thinks about an issue or how they voted on a certain issue ; such as the DB versus the DBO (Water Treatment Plant) issue. They have been in place since June 2012 and they have met with the City Council on only two occasions. I will try my best to do what is best for the citizens of Woonsocket in spite of the budget commission.
The Budget Commission is governed by state law. How can you as a City Councilor affect or change that law? The City Council is unable to remove the budget commission, this has to be done through the state with legislation to disband the budget commission. In my opinion, the State is the leading cause of our deficit. The state of Rhode Island has withheld 55 million dollars from the city of Woonsocket and our School Department over the last several years. When the state had its financial problems, they passed their problems along to the cities and towns by withholding critical funding. The state finished the last fiscal year with a 93 million dollar surplus, however, they refuse to share any of the money they have withheld from us.
The Budget Commission still needs to raise $1 million for its 5-year plan, and that's proposed to come from trash fees. Do you support this, or, if not, do you have an alternative? I am not in favor of raising the trash fees. Our citizens have been taxed enough and cannot afford to pay anymore fees and/or taxes. The one million dollars that needs to be raised can come from bringing businesses back to Woonsocket and offering tax incentive programs for new businesses. I am working on an incentive program for people and businesses that pay their entire tax bill early. CVS helped out the city by paying their taxes early this year, which helped our cash flow situation. Cumberland and East Providence offer tax incentives and find the program successful. I have spoken to Tom Bruce who was a finance director in Cumberland who stated that this incentive program helped the cash flow situation in Cumberland and could be very beneficial to Woonsocket.
Please list a reason you didn't mention at Candidates Night for voters to choose you over the other candidates. I have lived and worked in this city my entire life. I was a Woonsocket police officer for 23 years, served on the School Committee for eight years, and on the city council for two years. I love this city in good times and in bad times. We are resilient and will come roaring back. The Main St. livability plan is exciting; creating and promoting an art district, the bicycle path is coming to fruition which will bring a lot of outsiders into our city especially Main Street. I want to be a member of the City Council that helps Woonsocket get back into fiscal stability and make citizens proud of this city again.
What can Councilors do to improve the City's economy? We have to clean up the city and get rid of the eyesores and blighted property that we have. The current administration states that we do not have the money available to raze some of the burned up houses and we do not have the manpower to enforce some of the violations on unkempt properties. We have to make our city clean and attractive to entice businesses to locate in Woonsocket. We have to get an anchor store into the Diamond Hill Rd. area. Once an anchor store is established, other stores will follow suit.
What would your alternative to the Budget Commission have been? The city council was told that the only way to get an advancement of our school aid was through a budget commission. The council was told that a budget commission was being put in place whether we wanted them to or not. I voted to ask the state to place the budget commission in Woonsocket and it was the biggest regret that I have. I was under the impression that the budget commission would work in unison with the city council and school department to solve our problems and this certainly has not been the case.