Speakers React To Supplemental Tax Defeat Before Budget Commission

Public speaking portion of meeting draws suggestions for next steps to fix deficit.


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.

Still Hope June 14, 2012 at 12:56 AM
Russell. I took a sample (real, but not mine) property and made a pretty spread sheet for you showing the effect of property values vs rate vs effective rate. I used a few assumptions: 1. a tax increase for 2012 of 2011 + 4% ($25.10 + $1). 2. Some years missing, this is the only data avail. 3. For illustration, I estimated 2002 since i do not have that data, i used this as my estimate: http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-505145_162-57441824/average-home-prices-hit-mid-2002-levels/ Year Taxes Homestead Adj tax Rate Assessment 2012 $3,931 42% $2,280 $26.10 $150,600 2011 $4,799 42% $2,783 $25.10 $191,200 2010 $4,518 42% $2,620 $23.63 $191,200 2009 $4,275 25% $2,480 $22.36 $191,200 2008 $3,069 25% $2,302 $13.23 $232,000 2007 $2,988 25% $2,241 $12.88 $232,000 2006 $2,877 25% $2,158 $12.40 $232,000 2004 $3,682 45% $2,025 $23.85 $154,400 2002 $4,367 0% $4,367 $29.00 $150,600 If this home and many more like are generating $500 less tax revenue than last year then how do we cover next year's budget AND the compounding deficit from this year?
Joe June 14, 2012 at 12:59 AM
Still Hope - time to "clam up". The 4% cap is on the Levy, not the Rate. Here's the math: This year, your house is valued at $100,000 and the tax rate is 10%, so the city collects a Levy of $10,000 [$200,000 value x 10% rate]. In the new year, your house is valued at $50,000. Therefore, the tax rate increases from 10% to 20.8%, which allows the City to collect a Levy of $10,400 [$50,000 value x 20.8% rate], which provides a Levy that is 4% higher than last year's Levy of $10,000. As Russell explained, if the Values go down, it just means the Tax rate goes up. The 4% limit has nothing to do with the Rate and everything to do with the Levy. So time to clam up. But don't feel bad ...you are not alone in your ignorance. In fact, it is that type of ignorance that has led the City into the shit-hole state of affairs that we find ourselves in. Unfortunatley, there are more of you than there are Russells. And because of that, Still Hope, I am afraid that there is No Hope.
Joe June 14, 2012 at 01:09 AM
Still Hope - the answer to your question is to cut costs and make the city's gov't affordable to the taxpayers. If Mayors Fontaine and Ward wanted a Supplemental Tax increase, they should have provided a detailed plan to cut costs to go along with their Supplemental Tax. They did not do that. Therefore, no plan, no Supplemental Tax. Next stop - Receiver. Then you will see a comprehensive plan ...the one the Mayors could have and should have put forth. It is not rocket science.
Still Hope June 14, 2012 at 01:33 AM
I understand, and I stand corrected. Thank You.
Still Hope June 14, 2012 at 01:36 AM
My 2012 estimate is incorrect. I will still leave the spread sheet up as to illustrate the flux in tax rates and to show that when you compare earlier rates with those of today, it really isn't as devastating as headlines make it out to be.
Bob C June 14, 2012 at 01:50 AM
Doesn't 40% of the budget go towards pensions and retiree healthcare? How is that even sustainable?
Mr right. June 14, 2012 at 03:12 AM
we got what we paid for unforunately. until we wake up and vote out them all. what exactly does the economic developer do? clearly nothing as business are leaving. its time we map out a future...5 year plan? 10? we should have some direction. do these officials even know that? of all our elected officials how many have higher education degrees? how many have done some sort of public service for our governmenr? americorp, armed forces, peacecorp? something to proove allegiance to the people and legit public service...when did that become unimportant to us? it seems our politics are all about all who you know...well all we know are fools...get the broom.
Russell Archambault June 14, 2012 at 07:10 AM
STILL HOPE; actually if you can beleive this some commercial went up. i have been in the real estate investment business for 41 years in woonsocket. i own various types of real estate and pay the taxes at the different rates. look at this as a whole pie= one million. divide that pie in every kind of pieces you want some larger some smaller. give each piece a value. but it must equal one million. thats how rates are generated to reach the million. its that simple. i do not know the formulas to acheave this, but it is the way it works its that simple. they play with numbers until they get it with all the factors included. the problem comes in when ther becomes a large curve, like the state changing its mind on paying what they were going to. they can just keep adding up the numbers with additional expenses.. the problem is taxes get to high. so the next situation is slashing to make it reasonable. here comes the next problem. runaway situations like contracts with built in raises. now people just cant pay them anymore in this economy. no one has the balls to fix it. its all political. i have the balls but no one would vote for me. if we would go into receivership it would all be fixed. if unions dont agree we go bankrupt. go before a judge. and then the receiver can do by law what he wants to fix right away. it is that simple. our fathers have no guts, they are all intrenched in some form of ....
Russell Archambault June 14, 2012 at 07:10 AM
political friends and so forth. give this to me and i can have this done in 45 days. and never have problems again. that simple. i would be extremely fair to all, no favoritism. every one would hurt and everyone would gain in the long run.
Russell Archambault June 14, 2012 at 07:17 AM
STILL HOPE;to properly answer you last post. i believe the city council with the help of the school council will be holding a bake sale at the mcfee building. on sunday with donoyan putting a puppet show on and giving lap dances.in the office bathroom
Russell Archambault June 14, 2012 at 07:19 AM
BOB C; bake sales
John R Dionne June 14, 2012 at 01:15 PM
I agree with Jim Cournoyer that the failure of Mayor Fontaine to have a solid plan with the unions hurt the City with the General Assembly. To meet with union heads and say that a 10% pay cut will be talked about only after the General Assembly approves a sup-tax- makes no sense. The Assembly and the state wanted a approved PLAN not a intent. John R Dionne
Lisa June 14, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Mayor Fontaine and Councilman Ward are willing to talk to unions about 10% pay cuts, while shoving the 13% plus supplemental tax (and permanent tax hikes) down the throats of property owners. Kid gloves and pandering vs thug methods and fear-mongering... doesn't seem fair to me.
Ruth Carreiro June 14, 2012 at 02:34 PM
What will happen to our taxes when propery values return to normal and srart to increase again??
LEXINGTON GREEN June 14, 2012 at 04:18 PM
Let's examine this obtained information and see why this City & Country is headed. A young family bought a home in 2007 when prices were at their highest, $221,000. The City developed a value @ $141,000. They want to re-finance to decrease their monthly payment. Inspection of property show a value of only $108,000. Another upside down family. Lost value $113,000. City value $141K, $33K over value for tax purposes. Keep taxing the citizens and not cut expenses.
Still Hope June 14, 2012 at 07:01 PM
Russell. Let me appologize for my sharp-witted statements above, I do value your insight. There is no doubt that the city could shed some fat. But my fear is that they will cut lifestyle programs before looking internally. The city budget has been steadily rising in the last five years, mostly due, as you know, to bad contracts and a rise in the cost of living(gas, materials, healthcare). This is also compounded by inflexibility of the city's credit rating. A down year is a nice time to borrow money, unfortuately the city is tapped out and prevented from making the necessary moves. This reminds me of all the decades-old businesses that went under because they didn't have cash, the means, or the discipline to ride out the storm. I worry that the cuts to budget will only create a bigger hole for the future. Financially, the immediate problem will be solved, but the hit to programs and services will leave a bruise on the city. Think of it like this: you cut the number of police, you save $. Crime goes up, now you need the original police back plus additional support later. You cut funding to schools and you churn out under-educated citizens which adds to the spiral of "scumbags" in the city. One of the hallmarks of Mayor Menard was the progress she made in the quality of life in the city. From roads, to schools, to parks, to housing standards, she sought the funding necessary to make this city not only livable, but enjoyable...and we paid for it.
English first June 14, 2012 at 09:47 PM
Putting your name on the ballot for the next election?
Veteran June 14, 2012 at 11:02 PM
Lisa, Many of the people who work in the unions also live in the city. Thus, they will/would incur a 13% supplemental tax and a 10% pay cut.
Veteran June 14, 2012 at 11:20 PM
Russell, Your ideology sounds similar to a dictatorship. It appears, based on your boasts, that you desire power in order to force changes on large groups of people. I am confident that you or nearly anyone else could elicit significant financial and political changes with such absolute power. Fortunately, we have checks and balances in our country which prevent people with your beliefs from having the ability to assert such unchecked influence. Whether dealing with unions or individuals, an essential element of success and progress is negotiating changes. Without negotiation, where is the freedom?
Steve June 15, 2012 at 12:05 AM
Veteran, on the city side, this may be true, but on the school system side, I have heard the number of teachers and associated support functions that reside in the city are at 10 to 15%. There was talk talk of a residency clause in the hiring contracts going forward, but I'm not sure how that would be implemented. Maybe someone can check the residency records of the teachers union.....?
Russell Archambault June 15, 2012 at 01:45 AM
VETERAN; i can understand your view toward my way. the fact is havent we played long enough. i posses no power, nor do i need power. its time to act and stop playing everyones games while good tax paying people get stressed to the limit. i would like to see the courts take over stop all special interest. get this over with. there will no negotiations when a judge makes his decisions slams his hammer down. ive listen to the back and forth long enough. veteran would you rather come up with a solution or would you rather just play negotiation for another year. do you have a stake in any of this ?
Tim Chase June 15, 2012 at 02:32 AM
Jim Cournhoyer was always in favor of receivership. I'd rather be wrong and save home values, cultural morale, and careers than be right and favor sinking the city. From his perspective it makes sense. He's not the same level of working class as many of you. When or if the city goes into receivership, the bills will not lesson. What will happen is a shift in who get the money. And the power will be given to outsiders versus city politicians. The few or the many, who deserves your dollars more? Central Falls hasn't proven to save the tax payers money yet. Any decreases in pay and services has been met with increases in lawyer fees. Keep in mind the negative press and increased crime rate. How can economic development happen during that? How can home values increase? In my opinion bringing this situation to the general assembly might have been a mistake ( I don't know if there other options) . Blame who ever you want, but keep in mind that the politics is much different there than in Woonsocket on a Mayor-Council-School Com. level. I was going to stay quiet, and I will from here on in, but I'm pulling for success instead of wishing for failure. Economic Redevelopment - the wooded parts of the state don't want the businesses so I say make Woonsocket a magnant for them to come here and be our customers. How? Got me - but If done right it can be work! Just needs the proper tools. Now is a time for refinement! None of you are animals!
Veteran June 15, 2012 at 02:48 AM
Other than being a city resident, my stake is simply an appreciation of the freedom that I, along with men and women far greater, smarter, and more influential than me, have fought to protect. Notably, I make no proclamations about possessing the almighty solution(s) that you have developed through your careful analysis (perhaps presumptuous of me to think you have conducted any analysis other than trolling on the Woonsocket Patch) of Woonsocket's finances, contractual obligations, and legal ramifications of imposing changes without adhering to state and federal law. Overall, I fear the tyranny that you desire, but commend you if you do in fact run for office.
Joe June 15, 2012 at 03:01 AM
Tim Chase - People advocating for receivership are the ones trying to save the city. Those that are comfortable with the status quo are killing the city. We are not currently in receivership. How are our home-values doing? Where do you think Central Falls would be right now if they had not gone into receivership? Do you think maybe the ongoing cost savings that the receiver implemented might have paid for the one-time "legal fees" to which you refer? Not sure if you noticed, but we ARE failing and our elected officials do not have a plan beyond taxing people out of their homes. If our leaders had an honest plan, then people like Jim Cournoyer and others would not be calling for receivership. But the reality is that our leaders don't have a plan. They are busy sitting on their hands "waiting to see what happens with the Supplemental Tax bill". And what the hell do you mean when you say Jim Cournoyer "is not the same level of working class as many of you"?? I am pretty sure Jim Cournoyer gets up and goes to work every day. Also, do you think huge tax increases alone are going to be a magnet for business or anyone else? Come on Tim, your not an animal, so use your head for something more than a hat rack.
la_mouffette June 15, 2012 at 03:25 AM
Home values in Central Falls actually *are* going up, now that they're exiting bankruptcy. Meanwhile, our prices continue to fall. Wrap your head around that one! I guess, even in the miserable position of total fiscal failure, municipal stability is better than instability when it comes to property value.
Tim Chase June 15, 2012 at 03:40 AM
Nice to see that your painting by the numbers. In my opinion I don't see where the savings are. Besides, the fact of the matter is the city's credit rating has to be lifted somehow. I was in favor of the first supplemental budget some years ago just for that reason. It becomes a situation of pay now or pay later. Higher interest rates effect taxes. And I don't like taxes any more than you do. That's why I've been so vocal about economic development. I get it. Increase the tax base through economic growth lessen the burden on the tax payer. If the home values are poor now - how does receivership help? Do the values recover quicker? Supplemental tax increases are not meant to help with economic development by the way - but nothing says stay away like bankruptcy. A big reason why the city is failing is from the constant negativity and unwillingness to compromise in order to get back to hating each other. Thanks for recognising that I'm not an animal - could you please spread that word so the cronies don't poo on me everyday that I go out in public. And I'd prefer a hat trick to a hat rack - put that on my preference card too please! As far as Jim Cournoyer is concerned, he shows up to the meetings puts in the effort and you guys love him. I just happen to disagree with the solution to the problem.
la_mouffette June 15, 2012 at 03:44 AM
It's a complicated and miserable situation to be in, isn't it, Tim? =( I think the people who think we need receivership know-- or most of them know-- that it's not going to be an ideal situation by any means. For example, we get a non-elected executive, and as you say, power leaves the hands of our elected officials entirely. But, people calling for it think we need to go into it because 1. there is a real lack of confidence in some of our elected leaders. They've done some really puzzling and/or unsettling things over the past few years. ** 2. one chunk of our underlying fiscal problems is contracts, pensions and benefits, that are desperately beyond our income at this point. (In actuality, our city's debt is in the hundreds of millions, and we have almost NO hope of paying that. Supplemental tax would be a drop in the bucket. It's very scary. If nothing changes, things are gonna disintegrate anyway within the next decade.) The budget commission's ability to negotiate exists, but is limited. Receivers are in a stronger position to negotiate. The desire isn't failure for the city...it's survival for as many city residents as possible. I think everyone wants survival, and they just have different ideas of what we need to do to survive as a city. No matter what, no matter how things go, and no matter who you are-- municipal worker or teacher or middle school student or home owner, or business owner-- this is gonna be a rough ride.
la_mouffette June 15, 2012 at 03:47 AM
btw, I agree entirely about economic redevelopment. We could have an entire conversation thread about the "how"!
la_mouffette June 15, 2012 at 04:00 AM
l agree, bankruptcy doesn't hang out the welcome sign. But nothing, *nothing* says "stay away" like unstable taxes, and a commercial tax rate that is double or triple that of any of your neighbour's rates. And that's what we've got. I want to dig out the actual numbers, but I think Woonsocket's commercial rates may now be highest in the whole state! A large part of our failure as a city is our leaders' failure to recognize that businesses, especially when you make them the cornerstone of your tax base, will not stay (and certainly won't come in!) if you charge them outrageously high and non-competitive tax rates =( I utterly agree with you, we need redevelopment of our existing empty business zones. I drive down Main street, and I almost cry, thinking of what it could be like. Diamond Hill will probably be pretty depressing soon... I'd love to see a nice mix of local mom-and-pops, regional chains, and large retailers. But, how to get that with our current tax rates...?? and could we even consider lowering tax rates in the middle of this crisis?! *sad sigh* it's beyond me, how we fix this. I'd love to see a big group of residents with a variety of ideas brainstorming on the subject.
Russell Archambault June 16, 2012 at 03:51 AM
veteran; i assure you, i have been asked and refused. there is nor ever will be any political future for me.i am a successful business person 41 years who would not work for the miniscule pay that city politicians earn. i commend them for their contributions for all of us.i am well aware and understand the law , rules and the courts. i also enjoy freedom because of brave woman and men like yourself who serve and have served to protect. because of our great country i have the freedom to speak my mind.i have no expertise in the complexities in finance of city government. with that limited intelligence like yourself, but i do posses the fortitude of knowing when there is a problem and am willing to deal with that particular problem. politicians choose to and promise to work for all the citizens not just their own pet peeve. we are in a great financial downfall because of not confronting these problems in a timely manner. time has run out. now my only hope is bankruptcy for the city. so problems can be dealt with head on by the courts. i also wonder what are you hiding behind. see you again while you also are trolling.


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