Reactions to the recent defeat of the supplemental tax bill during this afternoon's Budget Commission meeting at City Hall included some suggestions on the panel's next step.
The Commission began with a reading of Director of Revenue Rosemary Booth Gallogly's statement in response to the bill's demise. "Representatives Baldelli-Hunt, Brien, and Phillips have done their city and their constituents no favors by failing to agree to what is necessary to begin to take steps to truly address the significant challenges facing Woonsocket," Gallogly said, in part.
First up was Woonsocket Firefighter Michael Morin. "I stand here before you frustrated, as many of you," Morin said. He said he was disgusted by the House delegation's willingness to put their political agendas ahead of the good of the city.
Morin said the firefighters union's concessions during their last negotiation had saved the city about $7 million. In response to criticism that Mayor Leo Fontaine had not worked with the unions to effect shared sacrifice, Morin said the Mayor had met with them and told them negotiations needed to wait on the supplemental tax. "The Mayor and president (Town Council President John Ward) have stood up to us," Morin assured critics.
Richard Fagnant suggested the Budget Commission should now take a look at cutting the parks and recreation director position. He said the department had no one else in the department and could be delegated to another part of the city.
Also, he said, the recent $2.4 million grant for renovating World War II Memorial Park should just go to the deficit. "That's totally out of line," Fagnant said of the grant. "Give it to us, forget the park." Also, he said, the city should charge a fee to get in to the park to help raise funds.
Fagnant also suggested cutting back on teacher sick days. Fagnant said cutting back on the 15 sick days per year Woonsocket teachers receive could save the city millions of dollars.
Jim Cournoyer applauded the efforts of the House Delegation that prevented the bill from getting passed. "I applaud our representatives. I don't care how it got done," Counoyer said. He said now the Budget Commission was operating with a proper sense of urgency, which they should apply to something other than increasing revenue through taxing.
Cournoyer was also critical of Morin's comments on contract negotiations. "I have no idea why we would wait for the supplemental tax to get passed before we held those discussions," he said.
Check back for more from this afternoon's Budget Commission meeting.