New Council Hears Non-Profits' Pleas at First Regular Meeting

The new City Council, with directors facing toward the audience. CREDIT: Rob Borkowski
The new City Council, with directors facing toward the audience. CREDIT: Rob Borkowski
City Councilors heard the pleas of non-profit organizations asking to be sparedfrom newly assessed taxes during their first regular meeting, receiving a possible balm from Councilman Garrett Mancieri.

Denis Galipeau, Elks trustee, assured councilors newly assessed taxes for several city non-profit organizations would end their charitable efforts. "We're at the point where if you tax us, the donations will stop, Galipeau said.

Darrin Cooper of Club Lafayette said the new taxes assessed for them would also cancel out their charitable efforts to causes including the Cops Wallk, the Jimmy Fund, the Milk Fund, Woonsocket Music Boosters and the Woonsocket Prevention Coalition.

Russ Chevalier of St. Joseph's Veterans Association said the newly assessed taxes would sink the organization outright. "Quite frankly, it's going to put us out," he said, "You're just going to have another piece of property collecting dust."

City Council President Al Brien suggested segregating non-profit groups between those that give back to the city and those that do not.

Mancieri agreed, suggesting that each non-profit organization's charitable efforts be applied to their assessments as a tax credit. 

Moreau noted one of the non-profits, Seven Hills, which has received criticism due to its high-paid CEO, actually commits 100 percent of its space to non-profit work, and employs a number of people in the $20,000 per year range. He warned against burdening them and compromising their mission, which includes work with children with Down's Syndrome. 

The newly assessed taxes for the non-profits was a decision made by the Budget Commission prior to the election, which replaced Mayor Leo Fontaine and Council President John Ward with Baldelli-Hunt and Brien respectively, each of whom now serve on the state-appointed board. The two now have a minority voice in Budget Commission decisions, the same political power enjoyed by Ward and Fontaine. 

Brien said he would arrange a work session with the Budget Commission to address the non-profits' concerns and Mancieri's proposal.

The evening was also notable for the new seating arrangements for the city's directors, all facing toward the audience. Under the previous administration and council, directors sat at tables with their backs to the public. The new arrangement allowed directors faces to be seen while they spoke to the councilors. 
Steve December 24, 2013 at 09:21 AM
Great job there Mr. Ward & co. Passing legislature to bypass the voting public? If the Public won't pass it, by pass them right? Beautiful! SECTION 12. To the extent of any inconsistency between this act and any private, public, general, or any other law, and the City Charter, this act shall prevail. This act shall take effect upon passage without voter approval notwithstanding Chapter VII, Article 8, §1 of the Woonsocket City Charter in conformity with the reserved powers of the General Assembly pursuant to Article XIII, Section 5 of the Constitution of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations.
Nelson Aldrich December 24, 2013 at 09:50 AM
« No law or ordinance is mightier than understanding. » Plato
Nelson Aldrich December 24, 2013 at 10:41 AM
Assuming the "bill" passed, did you write the bill John? I'm also curious about the fees to underwrite the Bond (what did it cost?), i'm pretty sure the interest rate was 7 percent too. Correct?
jack December 24, 2013 at 10:44 AM
That is the major problem in this State. Instead of fixing the cause, politicians in RI look for creative ways to wring every last penny out of taxpayers.
John Ward December 24, 2013 at 10:55 AM
Are you guys too chicken$hit to place some of the blame on our General Assmebly delegation for their support and passage of this bill? No, of course not! Of course I didn't write it, lawyers wrote it, with the approval of the general assembly leadership. BTW, the resolution to support this was unanimious (that's ALL city council members) when it passed, including Mr. Jalette. I guess because I am the only person who will participate here, everything that has ever upset you all is because of me. I guess there were no other city councilmen involved, right. SO, I forget, maybe I'll go back through all of your posts to see, but what have been your solutions to the problems? And by that I mean, solutions that are actually legal; would be able to make through the binding arbitration process? Please, remind me of your brilliant solutions. And, for the record, increasing populations of welfare families and overwhelming growth of subsidized housign is not something the mayor or city council can stop. THta is exclusively under the control of the general assembly and the laws they pass. So, please tell me....show me your genious.
Nelson Aldrich December 24, 2013 at 11:15 AM
No i'm not too chicken$hit to place blame, i'll bet LBH was all over it too. I'd like to know how much that fiasco wound up costing taxpayers and i'm extremely concerned about the precedent it sets for the future. Lawyers love to use precedent and someone will use this piece of crap against the people of Woonsocket again. Just like your supplemental tax, i'm pretty sure that'll come up again...based on precedent and lack of cash. By the way...was it State or City lawyers that wrote it? There was a solution...put it up for a vote, majority decides and lives with whatever consequence arrives.
Still Hope December 24, 2013 at 01:27 PM
Let me also add, a city is in fact a corporation. It is similar in the way a Fortune 500 company is a corporation. Clearly there are differences, but the principle is the same. Woonsocket was incorporated in 1888 and as such, maintains a charter just like any other corporation in the state. As a corporation, the city can file for bankruptcy. The state where the city is incorporated is the ruling body. A city like Woonsocket has a Home Rule, which basically says that the city can run itself and enact specific ordinances as long as it doesn't conflict with state or federal law. Municipal voting is a product of the city and the state is under no real obligation to honor it. So as Steve put it, "The City Charter was nothing more than a roll of toilet paper to the past administration." The state can effectively override anything the city does if it feels it has a public obligation to do so. Like a corporation, the city has the right to challenge any conflict by using the judicial authority. If you look at the link that John Ward posted above, it clearly and specifically nullifies part of the city charter and extends special privileges to the governing body. The city CANNOT tell the state what to do, just as CVS cannot either. However, the state CAN certainly tell the city what to do, or that CVS must raise minimum wage.
jack December 24, 2013 at 03:28 PM
John, the legal solution is chapter 9 - that is why it was created.
Nelson Aldrich December 24, 2013 at 03:29 PM
So Hope, under your premise, the State can nullify or approve any election or any legislation the City enacts? You might as well change your online name and the State should replace the "independent man" on the Capitol dome with a Swastika.
Nelson Aldrich December 24, 2013 at 04:09 PM
Jack, he doesn't believe in Chapter 9, nor does he believe in the right of the people of Woonsocket in their own self-determination. He believes that it's your obligation to pay whatever tax he and the State says it is. The blame game is getting old too, he was number two at City Hall.
jack December 24, 2013 at 05:01 PM
Nelson, you are correct. Mr Ward was not alone in his line of thinking,however I must give him credit for posting here.
Still Hope December 24, 2013 at 06:01 PM
Nelson, the state replaced everything when they appointed a Budget Commission. The Commission has pretty sweeping authority. I don't think they much care about the ordinance that determines how close a tree can be planted to the road, but anything that moves dollars in and out, they make the call. RI 45-9-6 is pretty comprehensive.
Nelson Aldrich December 24, 2013 at 10:20 PM
Ward and company (delegation included) were trampling on everything before the Budget Commission Hope. I've got zero faith in any system where the rules can be made up as they go along. But hey, i'll try to look on the bright side...the GA starts up again next month, maybe they can "move the needle" more next year. Just kidding...i think they should just call in sick. Excellent discussion everyone!
John Ward December 24, 2013 at 10:34 PM
NA! How dare you speak for what I believe in. From what I have read of your comments, you don't know the first thing about what I believe. I DO believe in Chapter 9. I was within a moment, many times, of asking for a vote to go to a receiver. That is all a budget commission can do. Chapter 9 requires a filing by a receiver, and only if the bankruptcy court allows it. The only thing that may happen in Chapter 9 will be the same tax levy increase and maybe more taken from those in the local retirement plan to pay for the added legal costs. Oh, and your property values will go down more than they are now. The police and fire employees will be forced to take the health benefits outlined in the enactments approved by the budget commission. And the lawsuits may get settled a little more quickly, but not necessarily less expensively. Essentially, you will find yourself in the same place as we are now; only difference is there will be a different scapegoat. NA, if you followed my analysis, you would know that I am not simply playing a blame game. The state has significantly harmed urban finances through the massive cuts not placed on wealthier communities. The education formula only started giving us more money AFTER taking away millions. It is only this year that we have finally received the same amount of education aid that we did in 2007. They (the GA including LBH) balanced the state books on the backs of the local property taxpayers and I was the lucky one to do the dirty work with a few others. I don't like anything about what has happened, but I am satisfied that I did all I could within the limited options available (again, only limited by the laws of the GA). Merry Christmas all.
Nelson Aldrich December 25, 2013 at 09:09 AM
The supplemental should have been put to a city-wide vote last November, Budget Commission or no. Anything that controversial should go to the people. I haven't scapegoated you at all, you've made statements in the past about "obligations". I don't have an obligation to pay anything that i didn't have a say in. The City holds no quarter, therefore i give none. That being said...we're on the same page on the GA. I know they're hugely responsible, obviously the 38 Studios bondholders are more important than the people of Woonsocket. I believe Woonsocket's bondholders should share some of the pain too, but that'll never happen (thanks Daniel DaPonte). Sadly,i've made the decision to leave when family responsibilities end. I'm sure they're not perfect in New Hampshire but they do it better up there. Anyway, as Jack stated above, i do recognize your contribution here and i thank you for taking the time (and the heat) in this forum. Merry Christmas to you and remember...."nothing changes on New Year's Day".
Still Hope December 25, 2013 at 03:20 PM
The court would never have approved a broad Chapter 9. Theories are fun, but sometimes you gotta play in the real world.
jack December 26, 2013 at 08:03 AM
I disagree with SH. The City would now be on the road to recovery with probably less foreclosures. If the figures are not altered I expect the Tax rates to increase in 2014.
Mew December 26, 2013 at 02:11 PM
John Ward December 26, 2013 at 02:25 PM
Mew, I promise to stay around just to annoy you. I might even find out who you ae so I can tell people what kind of person you really are! Keep a careful watch over your shoulder, it might be me checking up on you.
Steve December 28, 2013 at 11:45 AM
John, quick question, in one of your responses, you state "The state has significantly harmed urban finances through the massive cuts not placed on wealthier communities. The education formula only started giving us more money AFTER taking away millions. It is only this year that we have finally received the same amount of education aid that we did in 2007". John, when looking at RIDE enrollment statistics, in 2006 - 2007 there were 6462 students enrolled in the Woonsocket School system, but in 2011 - 2012, there were 5999 students enrolled. in 2013, there are 6024. Given these statistics, and given that the cost of educating each student costs approximately $8,000.00 per year, doesn't this mean that the WED should be saving somewhere in the 3.5 million dollar range per year due to decreased enrollment, yet you wanted and expected equal funding even when looking at decreased enrollments in the city of Woonsocket School system over the last 6 years now? Something doesn't sound right here?
David T December 28, 2013 at 12:49 PM
Holy crap. When I see a question like this, I realize how screwed the kids of this city are and always will be. This question shows me the just how prevalent the thinking is in this city that somehow the schools here in Woonsocket were ever funded sufficiently to provide every kid with a great education. In 2007, whatever the state and local contributions were, it wasn't enough. Then for the following 5 years the state screwed our kids even more, Steve. There's no savings to be had! That money goes to much needed programs that were decimated. When I see you concluding that WED should this year have savings just because the state bumped up their share, I see having quality education is not on the radar for you and sadly many. Building two new school was great, but I've seen first hand with a child in those schools that the schools are overwhelmed with children with special needs, ESLs and IEPs that it is effecting the quality of education overall. I hate to tell you this Steve, but you either hate John Ward so much that your math skills are effected by your need to prove him wrong or you went to WHS and your math skills suck. Or you simply don't know enough about the school department's financial needs which I think is also the case.
Still Hope December 28, 2013 at 01:35 PM
"Money that you think your are entitled to" vs "Money that is out there that you are too ignorant to earn". Typical welfare. Woonsocket still is NOT enrolled in Stop n Shop's free money for schools program. FREE. Calling all principals!!! http://images.stopandshop.com/static/full/SNS/media/aplus/principal-challenge-rules-2013.pdf
Still Hope December 28, 2013 at 01:37 PM
David T December 28, 2013 at 02:50 PM
"You're so pretty SH."
Nelson Aldrich December 28, 2013 at 03:54 PM
Stick a principal in front of Stop & Shop with a tin cup on one of the 185 off-days.
Steve December 28, 2013 at 04:40 PM
Dave T, check your facts and get back to us ok? Woonsocket spends more on education than the following towns and cities! So before you go calling me out, do some homework and explain the RIDE figures below, the figure is the total spent per student! And you blame it on education, financing, typical!! Woonsocket $13,485 Coventry $13,018 Scituate $13,017 Pawtucket $13,007 North Smithfield $12,886 Barrington $12,708 Burrillville $12,650 Cumberland $11,038
jack December 28, 2013 at 05:34 PM
Bottomless Pit overseen by the State.
Still Hope December 28, 2013 at 09:06 PM
That's the fun part Nelson, you don't have to beg for it, just sign up for free money. Google how many millions of dollars Cumberland and Pawtucket just got from FEMA to hire new fire firefighters. Free money, yay! Even Harmony RI just got $200,000 from them...and they're volunteer. Woonsocket is busy cutting the dept and too busy using overtime to worry about free money, while we watch mills and multi-families burn down each week. Choose: negligent deaths and property destruction OR free money.
Ron December 28, 2013 at 09:37 PM
Woonsocket's new administration can start to cut the number of fire stations to really save money.
David T December 29, 2013 at 08:32 PM
STILL HOPE- I suggest you take your fund raising ideas straight to the school dept, new school board and mayor rather than waste your time posting them here that does nothing to further your cause. And stop calling people ignorant. I don't see how helps except makes you feel superior. STEVE- Just trying to stay stick to your ORIGINAL point which had less to do with specific dollar amounts and more to do with a logical way of thinking about the finances and never ending needs of this city's school dept. Again, to your ORIGINAL QUESTION, there's no money missing, no savings to be had. I wonder if you have children in the public schools in Woonsocket or have the ability to be inside the schools for any length of time during the school day? If so, it's the only way you can get an up close and personal look inside the inner workings of the schools unless you are a teacher or staff, which I am not. Otherwise, I really think people like yourself talk about the school dept as a strictly monetary burden, impersonal, you have no personal stake within the schools. You seem, from your posts, to not care about what happens in there and I do. So we will never be on the same page in a conversation on this topic. No matter what I say you will ask for some proof of something despite the fact I'm not disputing any figures you quote. "Holy crap", again, is my expression of disbelief, exasperation at the level of negativity, bordering on hatred I see on these boards towards our local public education. One thing I will offer as a possible concession, if this is a serious debate, more money will help but throwing more and more and more money on this problem ultimately will not solve the underlying problems. Same goes with the city as a whole.


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