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Poll: Will Supplemental Tax Bill Work?

The City Council approved a 13 percent extra tax bill. Will it help the city right the ship?


The Woonsocket City Council hitting residents with 13 percent additional property tax bill to help pay off the School Department's $10 million deficit. Officials are calling it an unfortunate necessity, but will it ultimately stave off municipal bankruptcy?

Avoiding such a scenario is critical to keeping costs for homeowners as low as possible, Mayor Leo Fontaine told more than 150 residents in attendance at Monday night's meeting. Should Woonsocket declare bankrtuptcy, a state receiver would take over, and residents could be hit harder, Fontaine said.

"If we don't solve this problem ourselves, it will be solved for us, and that may not be as beneficial for us as we'd like it to be," said Mayor Leo Fontaine. "If we turn our fate over to a receiver, you could receive a tax bill much larger than this."

Still, there are questions whether the supplemental bill will raise enough money to avoid state receivership before any possible state aid — which the city has requested of the governor — and/or budget cuts plugs the $10 million hole. City Council President John Ward voiced concerns over some residents' ability to pay. "It could be a disaster for some of our elderly and our poor," he said.

So what do you think? Will the supplemental tax bill ultimately work, staving off bankruptcy and saving residents money in the long-run?

SDE April 04, 2012 at 07:30 PM
How could a supplemental tax work, without systemic changes? It's like standing in front of of a toilet flushing dollar bills down it!
KodakMan April 04, 2012 at 07:39 PM
All this useless back and forth arguing going on. Until the public school system is structurally changed in a dramatic way i.e. unions running the city, nothing will fundamentally change. You need strong leaders to take on the job. They are nowhere in sight right now. Politicians tend to keep the status quo going. And it is status quo business as usual that must be taken down.
la_mouffette April 04, 2012 at 09:12 PM
I agree, SDE...we need multiple changes. More funding from the state for our schools, a good fiscal audit to look for holes and problems and to sort out what went wrong with the Bacon and Edge audit and its implementation... improving our attractiveness to companies and fostering local business, getting other communities to share the burden of low-income housing, finding a solution for unfunded state mandates and demands, figuring out how to support the city-paid pensions, etc. etc. etc. Unless we somehow fix our problems, or unless the national economy miraculously makes an about-face and roars back into life, reviving the stock market and pouring money into the federal purse (which would repair much, and make other problems less noticeable again)... until then, a supplemental is only a crutch. Just enough to get us by right now and pay vendors. Like that 12 million dollar bond we took out for the last pile of deficits. *long sigh* 6_6
DonQ April 04, 2012 at 09:42 PM
We are in this current situation because the Mayor and City Council have failed to do the job they were elected to do. Whether due to incompetence or mismanagement they failed to monitor the fact that the school committee repeatedly allowed more money to be spent than what was available. If all parties involved have a history of failing to their job, how can we the Taxpayers have any confidence that they have suddenly experienced an epiphany and now know what they are supposed to do?
Mike Kind April 04, 2012 at 10:13 PM
la_moufette- your comment is both accurate and astute. Unfortunately, the one reality that causes our corporate tax rate to be astronomical is that our tax base is far too small. The only way to significantly increase the tax base and to lower the tax rate for all taxpayers results in political suicide. Only a new beginning under a capable and creative receiver will set the stage for systemic changes, allow for the resetting of pension disbursements to a fair and affordable level, and offer Woonsocket a chance at regaining viability. It is also a fact that the wealthier communities in the state, largely without such a high level of subsidized housing, have to accept the fact that they either need to welcome a proportionate share of this type of housing or compensate those communities that do.
Russell Archambault April 04, 2012 at 10:28 PM
I want to take this opportunity to thank our mayor, councils and city workers, for the hard work that they devote trying to solve issues that are just about impossible. There are no right or wrong votes anymore.With no money there is no fixing.For the first time in many years I trust our leaders in their views and explanations.Like it or not folks everything they said is true.I dare anyone differ in their stated facts as each stated! I was for letting the state come in and take over, and I agree with the one councilman with voting the way he did. I thank him. I also thank the other council members for voting the way they did, because of the knowledge that they learned about state laws. Again I thank all of you. Im going to be hit very hard with all of this. and no folks, I cant just pass it on because I'm a landlord. It just doesn't work that way. Now lets attack your favorite pet peeve. LANDLORDS, UNIONS, SYSTEMS,LEADERS. WEATHER.(hot, cold, rainy,dry). One thing Ive learned after being here for 60 years and fighting for 41 years in business, all I want is to keep my " Woonsocket pride." ....pass it on! ----- ps. should we have just sued the state??
la_mouffette April 04, 2012 at 10:45 PM
oh, Russell! If you still own as much property as you did years ago, I can't imagine how you even pay your taxes at this point. I salute you for hanging in there! btw, I'm not one of those people who likes to harp on my favourite scapegoat. I just think this is a complicated problem. Without changes that are beyond the control of our city government, I'm not sure how the problem can really fixed. I don't want to be told all is well just in time for the next election, only to find out that all the mess was just hiding in a closet for a few months! Know what I mean?
Growing more concerned by the day! April 04, 2012 at 10:54 PM
Bankruptcy works...and it's proven!
la_mouffette April 04, 2012 at 11:01 PM
Well, thank you, Mr. Kind! I agree entirely with you. And ugh, the business tax issue is such a vicious circle... elected officials want to protect themselves, and since "businesses don't vote", they raise their taxes most--> the economy sinks, some businesses fail, the housing bubble bursts, and thus our tax base shrinks --> elected officials still want to protect themselves, and since "businesses don't vote", they raise their taxes again -->an even larger chunk of our tax base relies on business-->economy gets worse-->raise business taxes more!-->businesses start to flee high tax rate-->oh no! they pay us a lot, we NEED that money!-->raise business taxes more... We can;t keep wringing the same amount of cash from fewer and fewer people. At some point, we have to realize that we can't hold these businesses at gunpoint. They can cut their tax rates in half by moving one mile away =/ I, too, fear that we can't fix this without a receiver and maybe bankruptcy...and I don't think bankruptcy wipes out all our debt or is a magic reset button. It's not a great option, but we may eventually get it, whether we want it or not.
DonQ April 04, 2012 at 11:19 PM
la_mouffette, That is why I am so angry. There is no possible way that the people we have running the city are going to pull the city out of the abyss that we are plummeting through. A panel of 6 made the decision that they would destroy as many lives as they could in a feeble attempt to stop the hemorrhaging with a piece of toilet tissue. All they have done is postpone the inevitable. They have repeatedly refused to listen to the wishes of those who have had this burden dumped on us. I have no doubt that within six months or less, the receiver will be in here and then we will bleed out.
GeorgeS April 04, 2012 at 11:23 PM
I agree with Ron - if anyone of us Taxpayers ran our household like the city of Woonsocket, we wouldn't last long. I don't care how big or small a budget you have to manage, if you spend more than what you take in; you are asking for trouble. Taxing the people is the easy way out, why not do the job you were elected to do and start with reviewing spending? Our so called "Elected Officials" have failed miserably.
Lavergne April 05, 2012 at 01:07 AM
I blame all our local reps and state legislators for not doing their part in the state mandate crisis. All they are concerned with is the election this year. If they weren't so egotistical and did what they were voted into do, we wouldn't be in this mess. They all walk the walk and talk the talk, in one ear and out the other. Why can't they leave their politics and egos at home, AND do THEIR FREAKIN JOBS!!!!! Let's dare our reps to forge ahead and work for us taxpayers!!
Lynn B April 05, 2012 at 05:06 AM
I got a feeling they will be back asking for another supplemental tax bill in the near future.I just read Dept of Environmental awarded a $125,000 grant for Cass Park,in which The city will match the amount.Where they get the money for that?I thought Woonsocket is broke?
give me a break April 05, 2012 at 09:14 AM
ok almost all packed up, now its where to drop off me keys, the bank or the mayors office.
Baywatch April 05, 2012 at 12:57 PM
The "supplemental" revenues will have little effect on the end result. The fear mongering behavior of the mayor is unfortunate. Using fear as the rational and motivator to persuade others to accept a particular position is the biggest red flag that there are hidden agendas in play. while a state appointed receiver theoretically could raise taxes to levels higher than what the mayor and council are proposing, the receiver would evaluate many factors before coming up with a plan. A receiver eould probably cut more services, as well as induce tax revenues. A receiver would have more expertise at resolving our issues than than our mayor and council. The receiver would not be as succeptable to the politics of the problem, his or her only goal would be to right the ship. Sad day for Woonsocket, the mayor is an incompetent opportunist whom is using fear to market the solution that is most favorable to him, not the community he has sworn to represent. Fear and loathing in Woonsocket.
DonQ April 05, 2012 at 01:08 PM
Delete Ron Bernier 9:06 am on Thursday, April 5, 2012 Thank you, well said. As I commented elsewhere, the Mayor and City Council have a dangerous delusion that they own this city and have no need to listen to what the taxpayers want and need. I only wish that we could take a no confidence vote against the Mayor and City Council. The taxpayers who are being bled dry by this Administration, need to take back OUR city.
Tired Tax Payer April 05, 2012 at 03:05 PM
Can someone PLEASE run against Fontaine in the next election! I think anybody would have a good shot at this point. John Dionne for Mayor........
Norman R Pelland April 05, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Your comments are well said Mr. Archambault, and I could not agree with you more! Woonsocket is also my hometown, and is where I also chose to purchase my home, which in fact, was built by Woonsocket Mayor Charles O. Park in 1890. While I have the utmost admiration and respect of our city leaders, I do fear, however, that the current facets of financial remedies i.e., supplemental tax bill, increased fees, reduction in services is only a band-aid approach and worry what will show its ugly face next year. Without a sound, prudent foundational plan for our future, I am not convinced that these remedies will entirely solve the situation we find ourselves in. I pray that our God almighty will bless our city and city officials with the grace and wisdom to steer our city on the right path for all future generations... Thank you for your comments. We need more positive remarks posted here and elsewhere; enough of the negativity...
The Chorus April 05, 2012 at 10:08 PM
John Dionne has not served on the council for 20+ years...I hardly blame him for the economic conditions in the city. He will never run for Mayor.
Russell Archambault April 05, 2012 at 10:11 PM
dude; would like to know what knowledge you have about,tax breaks to the Night clubs and Bars. please advise, thanks
Citi rezidant April 06, 2012 at 02:25 AM
Do you realize the supplemental tax bill is not a one time tax? Your tax base for next year will be based on the 5 quarter amount...Example, your taxes were $2000. Your supplemental is $200. Next year, your base tax amount is $2200, and what ever the increase in the tax rate is, is calculated on your new base amount of $2200. Don't let them fool you into thinking this is a one time bill....This is not a solution to the problem.
Citi rezidant April 06, 2012 at 02:30 AM
Where did the City come up with the money for the Public Works directors new car? I too, thought the city was broke.
Albert Mooney April 06, 2012 at 09:21 PM
Mr Archambault, River Falls, 77 Restaurant, Vintage, and the building on Front St where Chappies used to be are some of the properties in Woonsocket which have a reduction in tax in which the first year they get a 100% tax break the second year 80% tax break third year 60% tax break and so on until they finally pay 100% of their property taxes in year 6.
RonW April 06, 2012 at 10:23 PM
http://www.valleybreeze.com/2012/04/06/nsbw/gist-rules-to-withhold-state-aid-to-wed
Meesh April 07, 2012 at 12:21 AM
And don't forget that last year was a reval year and we will all be getting letters in May with our new valuations. You think people are angry now. Just wait! You know taxes will be raised to make up for the decrease in home values.
la_mouffette April 07, 2012 at 05:47 AM
is there someone you'd like to see run for Mayor? (anyone is welcome to respond) Who was the man who wanted to do a complete fiscal audit of everything? Anyone remember that candidate?
J. Head April 11, 2012 at 03:55 PM
Proven where? Central Falls is still a disaster and the city is still not close to being out from bankruptcy after two years!
Tommy Tutone April 11, 2012 at 05:14 PM
I know how you feel,you never really owned it.Actually,you might want to give a key to your insurance company....you know them,the ones that would've ratted you out to the bank if you stopped paying.God bless and best of luck to you,hold your head high!
Tommy Tutone April 11, 2012 at 05:29 PM
Bankruptcy means his political career is over.Make no mistake,he has plans for even higher office.He's a financial terrorist and ambition is his most revealing quality.The family genealogy business probably doesn't pay that well.

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