With little time and no progress to revive the supplemental tax bill, RI Director of Revenue Mary Booth Gallogly told the they may have to cut millions from the city's budget.
Gallogly, who was working this week to gain support for the supplemental tax from the Woonsocket delegation to the General Assembly, said she had nothing to report so far. "I actually don't know any more than I knew when it was referred back to committee," Gallogly said.
Without the Woonsocket delegation's support, the supplemental tax bill won't make it back to a House vote, which effectively kills the bill. The supplemental tax is expected to raise $6.6 million, with $4.3 million for the school department, said City Finance Director Thomas Bruce. Without it, the city needs to cut a total of $10 million from the city's budget, "Which is going to require some very significant reductions and tough choices," Gallogly said.
The remark was the first official acknowledgement of the possibility of resolving the city's budget woes through cuts instead of increasing the tax levy in weeks of public meetings on the issue.
The Budget Commission put a consideration of whether to pursue the supplemental tax bill on their agenda for the next meeting, Tuesday, 3 p.m., again at City Hall on the third floor.
"I'm honestly not sure if there's enough there to cut," said Commission member and City Council President John Ward. After the meeting, Ward offered some rough ideas for what the Budget Commission will have to discuss to make the necessary cuts.
Ward said some of the things they'd have to consider reducing include retiree benefits, all health care plans, and a renegotiation of the police department bargaining agreement that expires on June 30. "Everything will be on the table," Ward said, and, "We'll be in the position of having to do all of it very quickly."
June 29 is the deadline to pass a budget so the city can send out tax bills based on the required amount, Bruce said. Currently, the city's municipal budget is $122 million, he said, and the school department budget is at $62 million. (On May 23, the School Committee voted first passage on a $69.8 million budget for next year.)
After Tuesday's meeting, the Budget Commission will be meeting regularly Mondays at 8 a.m. at City Hall.