John McLaughlin paced outside City Hall before Tuesday's Budget Commission meeting with a sign, "No TAX in FY12" — but panel members weren't ready to abandon the supplemental tax as a deficit fix.
"I don't see how we're going to come up with a solution unless there's some type of supplemental tax," said Comission member Peder Schaefer. No other members offered alternative solutions.
At Friday's meeting, though, Commission Chair Bill Sequino, Council President John Ward and Director of Revenue Rosemary Booth Gallogly all said the alternative was making significant cuts to the city's budget.
With time running short on the General Assembly's session this year, Commission Chair Bill Sequino said the panel should vote on whether to ask the legislature to reconsider the bill during Tuesday's meeting.
David Eaton, fiscal advisor for East Providence's Budget Commission, also assisting the Woonsocket Budget Commission, drew up a resolution to ask the General Assembly to reconsider the bill. He also drafted a resolution asking the department of revenue to evaluate whether the City can exceed the 4.25 percent cap on property tax for FY 2012, so a supplemental tax could be approved "by the required authority (ies)" without violating the law.
Both resolutions passed (see attached .pdf).
According to the first resolution, the deficit can't be fixed with cuts alone without violating basic education funding and public safety standards.
The city faces a $10 million school budget deficit for this year and next year combined. This year's school budget deficit, said Thomas Bruce, city finance director, is $7.5 million.
Even with their supplemental tax request, members acknowledged bringing back the supplemental tax bill would be difficult. Commission member Mayor Leo Fontaine said he had not made any progress convincing members of the Woonsocket delegation to back the request. On Friday, Gallogly said she had not made progress winning over the delegation, either. The measure is unlikely to get another hearing without that support.
The meeting ended with a vote to go into executive session, to discuss the wastewater project. As spectators were leaving the third floor conference room, Brien took the podium, which still had a live microphone, to inform the Commission he had filed an objection against the vote for executive session, he said, because there was no disposition of public property and no investment of public funds involved.
The next meeting of the Woonsocket Budget Commission will be Monday, 8 a.m., at City Hall, third floor.