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Budget Commission Meets With City Council

Commission members answer Council's questions, take suggestions.

 

The Woonsocket Budget Commission met with the City Council Thursday night to take questions, briefly discussing an Aug. 16 public hearing about the School Committee's June request for a RI Department of Education (RIDE) takover.

Though RIDE has not responded to the request, Carolyn Dias, RIDE's chief of fiscal integrity and efficiencies, has stepped in to aid the department in straightening out its proposed budget. 

Commission member Council President John Ward observed Dias has led the budget presentations to the Budget Commission since she began helping the department. After the meeting, he said RIDE seems focused on helping the district straighten out its budget proposal first. "I think they haven't formulated a response yet," Ward said.

Commission member Leo Fontaine said the request for a state takeover of the school system should be answered. "If anything, we deserve a response," Fontaine said.

Ward noted a state takeover would probably not bring state dollars to aid Woonsocket Schools, given the state's unsuccessful attempt to enforce a tax hike to pay for schools during their takeover of Central Falls Schools. That attempt was foiled, he said, by an amendment removing school services from Central Falls' charter, a change Woonsocket has not made.

In other news, Council Vice President Dan Gendron was concerned the Budget Commission hadn't taken action on a new water treatment plant (not to be confused with the waste water treatment plant) the City Council approved before the Commission took over the city's finances. He said the current plant is providing the city with an enviable supply of fresh water, but is aging. "It's getting to the point where it's teetering on failure," Gendron said.

Commission Chairman Bill Sequino assured Gendron the Commission was working hard to clear the immediate financial challenges the city faces so they can begin to take on tasks like reviewing and approving the new water treatment plant.

David Eaton, advisor to the Budget Commission, said the Budget Commission is scheduled to consider the water treatment plant in mid-August. Gendron, who said he voted to ask the state to have the Budget Commission take over, offered his aid to the panel. "I didn't do that (vote to ask for the Commission) to shirk my duties. I want to be as helpful as I can," he said.

Councilman Roger Jalette also offered his assistance, but as someone who opposed asking the Budget Commission to step in. He said his biggest fear was, "Whether or not the community's ability to pay is taken into consideration," when the Commission considers raising taxes. Earlier this week, Sequino said he believed the Commission would have to take another shot at a supplemental tax bill once their negotiations with the city's unions are over.

"The decisions you make now could make or break the city of Woonsocket," Jalette said.

Ward noted the city pays its employees less than what municipal workers get for similar positions in neighboring communities. Woonsocket pays custodians an average of $36,000 per year, for instance, he said, while Lincoln pays custodians $45,000. "Yet, we sit here and get criticized for paying our people too much," he said.

Ward said the Budget Commission's upcoming talks with unions would help solve part of the city's deficit problem, but it won't be enough without raising taxes. He said the state's decision to cut aid to the city has left them no other option.

Fontaine said it's only a matter of time before the state's other cities face the same problem. He said city residents, and residents of other communities, need to cooperate for the good of the state to demand a fairer state aid system. "We've got to start making our legislators accountable," Fontaine said.

Lorraine Corey, editor of MyWoonsocket.com, urged members of the Commission to preserve the police force. "We need the police officers," Corey said.

Sequino said that every department has to be considered for cuts. "They may not all be on the table equally, but they're all on the table," Sequino said.

"As a citizen that's lived in the city all my life, I don't feel safe," Corey insisted.

John Ward Jr. August 03, 2012 at 08:41 PM
Dad says Woonsocket homeowners are over-taxed.Then he supports higher taxes.He wonders why i'm a rebel,i mean,what's up with that?
Russell Archambault August 03, 2012 at 09:57 PM
Well daddy's wrong again. we in woonsocket are not over taxed at all. Its a figment of our own selfish imagination. People no matter where you look, still have enough money to buy cigarettes every day. spend money foolishly on scratch tickets, and ride around in their junk cars. So JR. dont defy your father. Grow up and pay !! He's doing his best and I hope he raises our taxes to teach you a lesson. Brat!!
Novan for Life August 04, 2012 at 02:15 AM
hey russell don't you think your being harsh on jr after all his father is now known as the mayors puppet
John Ward Jr. August 04, 2012 at 11:43 AM
Dad wants me to find a job,i keep telling him there's no jobs in Woonsocket.Now he's telling me to move to North Dakota.
Russell Archambault August 04, 2012 at 02:08 PM
JR.take daddy's advice to move, but i would suggest moving to Woonsocket South Dakota instead. Here's the exact location, (Latitude: 42°29′N to 45°56′N Longitude: 96°26′W to 104°03′W ) Plenty of jobs there. By the way take robert lamarre jr with you, that bleeding heart seems to have a place in his heart for you. when your new neighbors ask you what your names are just tell them Im jr. and this is my friend jr.
Common Sense August 04, 2012 at 02:28 PM
Hi I'm Darryl. This is my brother, Darryl and this is my other brother Darryl.
Russell Archambault August 04, 2012 at 02:36 PM
COM sense; Im offended by your demeaning remark , suggesting there's something wrong with family. My sister's name is darryl. please say your sorry.
John Ward Jr. August 04, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Thanks for the advice Russell,dad's been verbally abusive these days and i need to strike out on my own.I'll post next time from South Dakota.My tax bill be damned!
Common Sense August 04, 2012 at 04:14 PM
I'm sorry that your sister's name is Darryl
DonQ August 04, 2012 at 05:01 PM
Ward noted that City worker's get paid $36K per year compared to Lincoln custodians receiving $45K. How does the overtime compare - in Woonsocket, we manufacture overtime municipal workers. How does the benefit package compare. Please don't insult us by comparing only the base salary. Let's compare the entire compensation package. Of course Ward probably doesn't think the average person is smart enough to know there is a difference between base salary and total compensation package. While we are at it, let's also compare percentage of homeowner taxpayers between Woonsocket and Lincoln. Let's compare welfare population between Woonsocket and Lincoln. Let's compare illegal immigrant population between Woonsocket and Lincoln. It's very convenient the way that Ward omits all but the smallest part of the entire picture.
Russell Archambault August 04, 2012 at 05:20 PM
don Q. Have ward go see how filthy the schools are in woonsocket. I commented on this a month ago. Do you think that they are worth more. I would fire all of them!
Common Sense August 04, 2012 at 06:41 PM
Don & Russ, sounds like if you both moved to Lincoln all your problems would be solved. You would probably complain about the crickets being too loud though.
Novan for Life August 04, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Thanks russell that means so much coming from someone like you, No i just understand what it's like to grow up in a city where tax payers have taken all the fun from this city. Don't mind him John Jr he has senior citizen problems like his buddy DonQ and his buddy John. PS FROM WED CHEERLEADER :)
Novan for Life August 04, 2012 at 07:17 PM
That won't happen, in lincoln there's nothing to complain about there schools are perfect, there air is perfect, even there administration is perfect. WED CHEERLEADER
Steve August 04, 2012 at 07:50 PM
DonQ, you hit it right on the head. Ward is totally oblivious when it comes to the constituents in Woonsocket. He needs get out of his house and walk around some of the neighborhoods to really get in touch with the residents of Woonsocket. But then I guess this "Tax em' Again" attitude comes from some deep rooted angst that he has when comparing who pays his paycheck, and who he's representing on the City council. To compare anything between Woonsocket and Lincoln, is totally ridicules! Mr. Ward, wake up will ya!
Realist August 04, 2012 at 08:46 PM
The true joke in all this is the mouthy homeowner thinks he is going to get a free ride. What your going to get is the Police and Fire departments you pay for with YOU being bottom priority to "emergency" calls from the welfare bums that are sucking us all dry. You (homeowner) are going to get a huge tax bill every year for the next 15 years. You will have no say in how your City government runs or spends your money, YOU will pay for the overflowing "special needs educational plans" of the apartment dweller who pays nothing and texts on their Obama phone. YOU will watch great talented policeman and fireman leave their positions here to go where they will be able to support their families. YOU will be told "sorry were running at below safe manning so YOUR complaint and emergency will have to wait. YOU can label it whatever you want the figures are in black and white the Union scum you rant about are the lowest paid in the state and wont be able to attract the caliber of employee your dumping on at every turn. Go ahead and restructure, cut and dismantle the fire and police departments BUT do it knowing that when you have chest pain at 3 in the morning maybe the extra time it takes to get to you will cost your life, Or when you call about your house getting robbed there wont be anyone available for an hour. Because thats the REALITY of whats coming..You can reply whatever you want its the truth..Your funding that school and all those apartments full of welfare kids. Good Luck
DonQ August 04, 2012 at 09:45 PM
The main point that you are extremely wrong about is that "the mouthy homeowner" is not looking for a free ride. The reality is there may be some rich people with bottomless pockets living in this city, but the majority of us are tapped out and the idiots running the city don't have enough common sense to realize that. Maybe we need to start a movement to run the welfare scum and illegals out of the city. If the police aren't able to serve the law abiding taxpayer, then maybe the taxpayers need to adopt alternative plans. Bottom line, you can't get get blood out of a turnip.
Novan for Life August 04, 2012 at 10:24 PM
Now hold on there are people on welfare that are trying, Do you think people who are on welfare enjoy it? Just because you own a home does not make you better than everyone else and that goes for everyone else who thinks like DONQ does!!!!!
DonQ August 04, 2012 at 10:33 PM
It's time we launch programs to make those who are on welfare earn that monthly welfare payment. If you don't want to work to earn your payment, then you go without. Then, you will see who the people are that don't enjoy being on welfare and are willing to work for their check. we will also see a very large group of freeloaders flee this city because they want to be able to sit on their fat rear ends and have everything given to them for nothing. This needs to happen across the country, not just in Woonsocket. It's time for the free gravy train to come to the end of the line.
Novan for Life August 04, 2012 at 10:58 PM
Keep dreaming there pal
John Ward Jr. August 04, 2012 at 11:08 PM
Well I'm on my way. I don't know where I'm going. I'm on my way, I'm taking my time But I don't know where.
DonQ August 04, 2012 at 11:10 PM
Guess you weren't including yourself in the group of welfare takers who don't enjoy being on welfare.
Russell Archambault August 05, 2012 at 01:04 AM
JR. Dont know if this a bad time to tell you but daddy's already turning your bedroom into the den he always wanted! sorry for the bad news. Have a safe trip !
Russell Archambault August 05, 2012 at 01:12 AM
This site is so hard to figure out! Can't figure who my friends or enemies are. Please give me a hint, so I know to attack next.
Elmer Fudd August 05, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Overheard at local TA meeting:"Hello,my name is Leo and i'm a taxaholic".
David T August 05, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Funny and true.
Novan for Life August 07, 2012 at 01:21 AM
I'm not on welfare you might have fun
Novan for Life August 07, 2012 at 01:21 AM
attack me everyone else does

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