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Woonsocket Budget Commission May Have To Cut To Fix Deficit

RI Revenue Chief: Members face tough choices if supplemental tax bill doesn't materialize.

 

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.

Tommy Tutone June 01, 2012 at 07:47 PM
Ya think?
Novan for Life June 01, 2012 at 08:44 PM
finally not to raise an issue but the city may have to make sacrifices instead of the school department. But what ever happens happens i guess
give me a break June 02, 2012 at 09:34 AM
bring in flanders disband the committee
DonQ June 02, 2012 at 11:46 AM
All along, our illustrious city leaders have been telling us that the entire $6.6 million that would be raised by the supplemental tax would be going to the school department. Now, we are being told that only $4.3m of the money would go to the school department. That would mean that the city (which was supposed to be fiscally sound according to Fontaine) would be keeping the remaining $2.3m. Also notice that now Ward has some ideas on where they can cut to come up with the needed savings without the supplemental tax. Strange that Ward couldn't think of those areas to cut expenses before the budget commission came in.
Joe June 02, 2012 at 12:16 PM
DonQ - I believe what Tom Bruce was referring to was that they expect only 65% ($4.3m) of the $6.6m Supplemental Tax to be collected and all that is collected will go to the School Dept. But that just goes to show that even the Administration, although they don't say it publicly in a clear manner, know that the Taxpayers can not afford their "plan".
Joe June 02, 2012 at 12:25 PM
I'm confused. The Administration said the School Budget is $62m, yet the School Dept approved a budget of $69m. Haven't we seen this movie before (the current fiscal year)? It has a really bad ending. Council President John Ward said "Everything will be on the table," and "We'll be in the position of having to do all of it very quickly". Really? Does that imply everything was not on the table prior to yesterday? Does that imply we did not have to move quickly prior to yesterday? It seems to me that yesterday, at the first Budget Commission's first meeting, would have been the perfect time and venue to present the "rest of the plan" ...you know, all the other things that were supposedly being done in conjunction with the Supplemental Tax bill. Call me skeptical, but I am beginning to believe that they never had a "plan" beyond putting people out of their homes by crushing them with a Supplemental Tax bill and 15% late fees. The only good news of late is that Judge Flanders has been freed up, as he is being replaced by a new receiver in Central Falls. Hopefully Ms. Gallogly will come to her senses and send Flanders to Woonsocket on Monday.
Tommy Tutone June 02, 2012 at 12:30 PM
They're money junkies,addicted and going through withdrawal.They'll come up with any stupid plan to keep the rush going.Expect more irrational thought as time goes on.
joe public June 02, 2012 at 02:18 PM
Funny how our political leaders,,,,,, if you perfer idiots?, They have all the answers ,let the people pay for their screwups, and lack of fore thought on their part. I for one, look forward to the day, I can sell my home and leave this city .The recent financial problems , everyone is great at placing blame ,but seemed to pass the buck , (to the citizens of Woonsocket ) for these problems bring in people who can fix this , and dimiss the fools who cant
Eastie June 02, 2012 at 05:46 PM
As usual, the public employees are being singled out to solve the problem. The Mayor admitted feeling guilty coming to the Unions every year for more concessions and reporting that it will solve the problem. The problem is never solved by the 'leaders' we have now. John Ward is speaking of cutting pensions. The pensions are from a separate fund which is being woefully managed. The pensions have nothing to do with this education overspending. Do you know why Citizen,s Bank is always willing to loan money to the city, there is over 16 million dollars of Pension Fund money sitting in Citizen's Bank earning peanuts for interest, while the study done when they started the Fund looked for over eight percent. But our leaders obviously have made an agreement with the bank to help cover their woeful behinds. Has the Mayor taken a pay cut or agreed to cut his pension which will be based on his Mayor's salary even though most of his years of service were part time on the Council? Have the dept. heads received a salary cut? A fine example of leadership by example.
Was from Woonsocket June 02, 2012 at 10:20 PM
You people don't know what taxed to death means. No tax increase in 10 years now it is time to pay the piper that being Piper Chaffee!
la_mouffette June 03, 2012 at 01:04 AM
I keep hearing the pipe you're playing, Was. A lot of people keep on blowing it. It's out of tune. The numbers seem to show the tax levy was raised 3 to 5% or more every year, for quite a long time now. But even if they weren't, we've certainly caught up. http://www.riedc.com/files/TaxRatesFY2011.pdf Taxed to death? At this point, we have some of the highest tax rates in RI. Our commercial rate is THE highest, and has been for years. But it's still climbing. That's why businesses are fleeing, renters are running, and property owners are giving up. The problems are a lot more complicated than "you should've raised your taxes more"...though, I can see why people like to lean on that. Because it means our problem is purely our fault. It lets our neighbors off a very real hook. That excuse ignores the fact that we house the poor, unemployed, disabled of ALL our surrounding communities. They don't provide services or the state-required percentage of affordable housing. We carry their load. We absorb the people all our neighbors don't want to be near, or spend money on... Our schools teach YOUR special needs students. Not cheap, that. It conveniently ignores the State's unfair funding formula for RI's inner city schools. And MANY poor decisions made by our municipal leaders, including raising commercial taxes too freely. And a wide variety of factors. But keep on playing the tune, if it makes you feel better.
la_mouffette June 03, 2012 at 01:09 AM
The city budget is definitely NOT fiscally sound. Any grant they get vanishes into the black hole of trying to make it look balanced. I personally suspect Fontaine was pushing for the Waste water treatment loan partly because he wanted the 2 million the lender would give us up front. but no...not fiscally sound at all. If you want a heart attack, look into the city pension and OPEB numbers. We're balancing the books by ignoring our biggest debt.
la_mouffette June 03, 2012 at 01:14 AM
Joe, I think you're right... they're only estimating they can collect a certain percent, but I forget what the numbers are. My question is, will the supplemental (whatever is gathered) go completely towards the school as a special one-time tax, or will it be divided according to the regular tax formula? Because ordinarily, the lion's share goes to the City, not the schools. I think the schools get, what? Is it 20%? Also, since it automatically rolls into our ongoing tax rates, does that mean next year's "supplemental", and from there on out, will follow the general formula, feeding mostly into the city side?
la_mouffette June 03, 2012 at 01:20 AM
I agree that this is falling hard on public employees, but they're not alone in being "singled" out. Businesses, especially Mom-and-Pop local businesses, and people who own homes other than single-family (many of whom aren't investors, but regular people trying to provide housing their families can afford) have been harshly singled-out for quite a while. The pensions...what a mess!!! I'm surprised the Mayor hasn't offered to take any kind of pay cut, even a tiny, symbolic one. It would be good leadership!
give me a break June 03, 2012 at 10:08 AM
MOUFFETTE wake up bankruptcy is the only way out of this mess.Buy then I guess your happy with getting 5 quarter tax bill fromm now on ater they pas the supplement tax this not a 1 time deal. oh yeah by the wat don't forgot to pay my share. 3 more weeks me outta taxasocket
Novan for Life June 03, 2012 at 03:06 PM
taxed2death i don't believe that bankruptcy is the best way, I do thinh however that we should give the budget commission time to see what they can do.For example east providence has a budget commission and it's doing well so why can't it work here?
Tommy Tutone June 03, 2012 at 03:27 PM
I think taxed2death has zero confidence in the Commission the way it's currently configured,i'm not confident either.I don't like the resurrection of the supplemental tax and reject the idea that we have to accept it.Deep cuts have to be made,the local economy can no longer support the size of local Government,unfortunately.
Misty Harbor June 03, 2012 at 03:30 PM
All I can say is THANK YOU REP LISA BALDELLI !! You've made a real nice mess out of this. Say what you want, but I feel it's mostly her fault for this mess. I would rather live with a supplemental tax bill than to lose my homestead exemption, and pay a higher tax, like we all will now. Why didn't our smart Reps put a bill in for all city workers who live out of the city pay a non-residents tax. Then, it would be fair for everyone or partly everyone to do their share. Why should a city worker who lives out of town, get away with not paying anything, versus a city worker who lives here and has to pay on their house and car.....It isn't fair,,,so why couldn't our reps make it fair, instead of being to WISHY/WASHY? I have no respect for our reps...they've just embarrassed this city.
Memere June 03, 2012 at 05:46 PM
La Moufette, I completely agree with you on this. It is time that the surrounding communities start paying their share and start carrying some of the load!!!!
DonQ June 03, 2012 at 06:19 PM
Memere, I also agree that we need to start demanding that the surrounding communities start paying their fair share and start carrying their own load. Unfortunately we Woonsocket doesn't have an administration that is capable of making the necessary demands. They are not even capable of figuring out how to handle the current crisis in Woonsocket other than to financially destroy the taxpayers in the city. They aren't intelligent enough to make the difficult cuts that must be made. And they definitely aren't intelligent enough lobby the GA to demand that the surrounding cities and towns ante up for their share.
Russell Archambault June 03, 2012 at 06:26 PM
MISTY; agree on everyone doing their fair share, nobody would complain, just the ones who would have to anty up. that would take considerate planing! with no political correctness. can you find anyone that could come up with a fair plan, that could be implemented. that person would be crushed before getting off the starting line.
rene carpentier June 05, 2012 at 10:23 PM
Time for a fresh start enough is enough. Last year i paid several thousand dollars in taxes. We can"t afford being robbed by this city anymore.
RonW June 06, 2012 at 12:53 AM
http://news.providencejournal.com/breaking-news/2012/06/budget-commissi.html?plckItemsPerPage=10&plckSort=TimeStampDescending&plckFindCommentKey=CommentKey:f9fa074e-9112-4c0b-bace-a6afbe82721e#pluck_comments_list
Tommy Tutone June 06, 2012 at 01:47 AM
Thanks for the update,RonW.No cuts,just more taxes.Won't fix anything in the long run.Let the Exodus begin! Woonsocket's a sewer!
DonQ June 06, 2012 at 10:18 AM
This is exactly why Fontaine and Ward should not be seated on the budget commission. Instead of making the hard cuts necessary, it's going to be business as usual. Fontaine and Ward have convinced the commission that they have cut as much as possible and now it is time to further screw the taxpayers. So what was the purpose of bringing in the budget commission. They obviously have no more intestinal fortitude than what Fontaine and Ward have. They are obviously a bunch of cowards looking to take the easiest way possible out of this mess. Of course, the easiest way out to bleed the taxpayers even more. May they all rot in Hell.

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