Woonsocket Supplemental Tax Bill May Be Heard Tuesday

Ward told members of joint Council, School Committee working session that bill could get second shot.


City Council President John Ward told members of the Council and School Committee Wednesday that the act authorizing the city to issue new tax bills could get another chance May 22.

Ward spoke during a Council working session at Town Hall last night, with School Committee Chair Anita Forcier-Mcguire, School Committee Vice Chair Vimala Phongsavanh and Superintendent Giovanna Donoyan present. He said he'd spoken with Rep. Jon Brien (Dist. 50, Woonsocket) earlier Wednesday and had learned the Finance Committee might be considering the act again as early as next Tuesday. The Finance Committee tabled the authorizing legislation Tuesday, May 15.

"It usually means that the bill is killed," when a committee tables a bill for further study, said Mayor Leo Fontaine, so a possible new hearing is good news. But time is still short, he said. The school department is out of money, and is largely operating due to the good will of its creditors. Durham Bus Services, for instance, is continuing to provide transport for the schools despite an outstanding $600,000 bill.

The Finance Committee's tabling of the supplemental tax bill threatens that good will. "I think there is a big question in vendor's minds," Fontaine said. Also, he said, the city has since heard from Fitch Ratings Agency and Moody's about their concerns about the Finance Committee's decision to give the legislation more study.

Councilman Albert Brien suggested a second option to bring in funds for the city - borrowing from the city's pension fund. Finance Director Thomas Bruce said there's approximately $54 million in that fund, about $20 million of it in cash.

Brien said the cash is earning one quarter of one percent in interest. The city could borrow about $5 million from that, he said, esssentially borrowing from itself at 6.75 percent interest, benefiting the fund and raising money to pay vendors.

Bruce said he would double check with the city's bond attorney, Normand Benoit, but he has already told them the city can't do that. Also, Bruce said, he didn't think the idea was a good one. The pension funds are a trust between the city and employees. "You can't breach that trust," he said. Bruce added that he doubted State Auditor General Dennis E. Hoyle would approve borrowing from the fund.

Also during the meeting Superintendent Giovanna Donoyan told Council members that the schools draft budget had risen by $2,596,000 from the $64,500,000 budget B&E Consulting had given them to work with on Saturday, to $67.1 million.

The hike was largely due to $1.4 million expense for retirement funding and a $550,000 expense for a capital budget that B&E hadn't accounted for, Donoyan said.

Bruce commended the School Committee for its work to flesh out the budget, and noted it was unusual for an accounting firm's work to leave out the line items the School Committee had discovered and added in. "I've never seen that," Bruce said.

Ward said that while the omissions were shocking, the rushed nature of the task set out for B&E probably contributed to the ommissions. In early May, with the schools budget already weeks overdue, the Council demanded a budget from the school department.

"Thank God these people went through this line by line," said Councilman Robert Moreau, praising the School Committee's dilligence.

Donoyan said the School Committee would likely vote on their budget Friday.

Tommy Tutone May 17, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Everybody will pop a bottle of champagne if the House passes the monstrosity.Let's all cheer an 18% tax increase for FY 2012.Then we can look forward to the 13.8% being included in our 2013 tax bill with the possibilty of an additional 4.5% added on because it's under the state cap. Someone else in here commented the other day about voting with his feet in a couple of years.I'm stuck here for a while too but i'm with him.I don't see them "fixing" anything,i just see taxes and fees as far as the eye can see.
give me a break May 18, 2012 at 08:37 AM
dats how thier brains work hmmm solve a problem raise the taxes
DonQ May 18, 2012 at 12:48 PM
The saddest part about this whole thing is the non tax payers will vote these same incompetents into office again next election and those of us who do pay the taxes will be bled dry again. The entire City Council, School Committee and especially the Mayor must be replaced. They have destroyed this city with their incompetence.
English first May 18, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Who are the non taxpayers? The ones who don't pay taxes in Walmart? The ones who don't pay taxes on paper towels, soap, and bandaids? The ones that don't pay tax on gasoline? The ones who don't pay the property tax of their landlords through their rent? The non-taxpayers who pay a million fees on electricity bills? I am not happy that taxes go up. They go up everywhere. But I am thrilled I have a job.
Novan for Life May 18, 2012 at 03:19 PM
Hey Steve quick question do actually read the article's or do you just read what you want. I actually thought i read that the city council gave credit to the school committe for carefully reviewin that budget plan and found the the firm hired missed some important line items. So i guess you have proven my point you just don't like the education department one bit. Quite frankly it's sicking to hear you spew all of this hate towards one department but i guess that's what your good for huh!!!
Novan for Life May 18, 2012 at 03:19 PM
DonQ May 18, 2012 at 04:45 PM
English first, I know I am wasting my time and breath responding to you, but what the heck, since I was left with no choice but to retire, I have time to waste. I am no talking about the folks who don't pay taxes to Wal-Mart - that is sales tax and does not directly benefit any city or town. I am not talking about the folks who don't pay taxes on toilet paper - again, sales taxes that don't directly benefit the cities and towns. I am talking about the folks who beat the property tax by registering vehicles in other states. I am talking about the folks who live on welfare as a way of life - they have no desire to better themselves. I am talking about the folks who live in section 8 housing - the majority of their rent is paid by the taxpayers - thus, we are paying our own property tax and we are subsidizing the percentage of property tax assigned to their rent. Hopefully, this helps clear up your confusion as to who the taxpayers are.
Steve May 18, 2012 at 05:22 PM
Well Robert, for once, you’re right. I have nothing but contempt for the WED/School Committee and all they have done to the city of Woonsocket and it’s tax payers. I have not and will not hide the fact that I think the WED and the School Committee are two of the most arrogant, incompetent, self serving groups that have ever held office or have ever run an organization within the City of Woonsocket. This latest budget go around shows exactly what I’m talking about, three months late, and still not settled. Where will the dart end up on the board this time, 64, 66, 68, 70, 72 MILLION? Who knows until we spend all the cash again, and then find ourselves in another deficit, again, with total disregard to the impact of the City of Woonsocket. As far as the kudos given by the City Council for their budget work, what do you expect them to say, they’re all in this sinking boat together……. Unbelievable!
Steve May 18, 2012 at 05:23 PM
Funny thing here is that every time they make a mistake, it costs me and all the other PROPERTY owners of Woonsocket thousands of extra dollars in taxes, and for some, even their property itself, but I know, you have an answer to this too right, just leave then! And for you, it costs virtually nothing as has been well documented before! Let me ask you a question there Robert, seeing how you like to ask other people questions. Have YOU ever made a single contribution to the WED to the tune of maybe 2 or 3 thousand dollars, especially seeing how YOU have children in the system? Doesn’t this seem like the right thing to do, seeing how they run constant deficits? I’m sure they would be more than willing to take your donation and apply it to any budget they are working on going forward. If you think so much of them, I say pony up some cash there Robert and YOU do the right thing!!!
DonQ May 18, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Steve, I agree with everything you have said. I'm not sure what Robert's love affair is with the WED/School Committee, but he seems to be one of their biggest cheer leaders. The more taxpayer money that they mismanage and waste, the louder Robert cheers for them. The School Committee has shown over and over and over (regardless of who the chairman is), that they have no regard for the Woonsocket Taxpayer's ability to pay. They are totally incapable of hiring anyone who has the ability to efficiently operate the WED. They themselves are guilty of increasing the budget for items that they can't afford - 2 Principal positions to the tune of $89,000 each "in anticipation of a hiring freeze being lifted". I'm curious if they all mismanage and waste their family budgets the way they waste the taxpayer funds. We need to get rid of every single one of them.
The Chorus May 18, 2012 at 06:01 PM
Steve & DonQ - I applaud your vigilance but not sure why you even bother responding to Robert's barely legible ramblings.
Steve May 18, 2012 at 06:50 PM
I guess in the City and WED's minds the end justifies the means right? In John Dionne’s words, what a country! 13 percent extra this year and the next year and the next…….. but..... Bruce said the draft document assumes the tax bill will be passed and contains a significant increase in funding for the School Department. While he could not reveal exact figures at this early stage or say if his draft included all of the money the department requested, he said "I've never seen a city and school budget agree on the first try." His budget plan, he said, level funds or decreases virtually all other line items. "It's a great ordeal for every household to pay 13 percent extra this year and the next year and the next," he said. "But you can see in the numbers, it is all going directly to the school department." http://www.valleybreeze.com/2012/05/18/nsbw/finance-director-resolves-banking-emergencies-for-education-department-prepares-city
Tommy Tutone May 18, 2012 at 07:16 PM
I love it,everyone's gonna shell out hundreds so the kiddies can shoot spitballs at each other for two or three weeks.Hell,some people will probably forgo medication,some may cut down on food,some may not have hot water etc.That's okay though,it's called "shared sacrifice",only some sacrifice more than others!
DonQ May 18, 2012 at 07:27 PM
dead in the water, You make it sound like the WE'D and School Committee should have some concern about how many people will go without their necessary medications, or food on their table. Or even how many people will potentially end up losing their homes because of the Incompetence of the WED and School Committee. The City Council under the "leadership" of Ward and The Mayor have shown that they have no concern for the lives they destroy, so why should the WED and School Committee. The laws give them the authority to ignore budgets. They have the authority to spend without regards to the taxpayer ability to pay. Bottom line, none of these incompetents care at all abouth the people who have to pay the bills.
Tommy Tutone May 18, 2012 at 07:53 PM
DonQ.... I do wonder how many people are really keeping up with the news on this.I wonder how many out there will have that deer in the headlights look when the bill arrives.
English first May 18, 2012 at 08:27 PM
Don Q, Thank you for wasting your time and breath responding to me. I am glad that you are in such comfortable financial circumstances. I am lucky not to have to live in section 8 housing. I am glad I do not have to support China by shopping at Walmart. I do not say there are not people out there that take advantage of the government. But because some citizens are poor or on assistance does not make them cheats. You compassion for the poor overwhelms us all.
DonQ May 18, 2012 at 08:37 PM
English first, As usual, you don't get it. First, I am not comfortable. Did you mii the part where I said I retired through no choice of my own. If you think I can afford this outrageous supplemental tax, then you are clueless. As for my compassion - I do what I can to help those who are willing to help themselves. If you enjoy supporting those who are happy to live off the life blood of those who have to pay for them, then do me a favor - pick up my share so I will be able to keep my house.
Tommy Tutone May 18, 2012 at 08:41 PM
English first has a money tree in his/her backyard.
Steve May 18, 2012 at 10:41 PM
BREAKING NEWS: Out of time, officials now seek state intervention. http://www.woonsocketcall.com/node/5286
DonQ May 18, 2012 at 10:53 PM
Finally. It may still be a bitter pill to swallow, but, the good news is that a budget commission can/will make cuts that our Mayor and City Council haven't had the intestinal fortitude to do. The only down side is that Fontaine and Ward will have seats on the commission. They have a big hand in this mess. They should be gagged and have no say on the budget commission.
Tommy Tutone May 18, 2012 at 11:27 PM
Thanks for this Steve,chopped sirloin on the menu!
Steve May 19, 2012 at 08:58 PM
Gee, who would have guessed? WOONSOCKET – An extended work session by the School Committee on Friday afternoon has pushed the School Department close to setting a proposed budget of $70,613,739 for 2012-2013.
Steve May 19, 2012 at 09:14 PM
Do I hear 72, 72 going once, 72 going twice...........
DonQ May 19, 2012 at 09:18 PM
Steve, Give them some more time. They haven't finished padding the budget yet. They heard that there are still a few people out there who have a little money left for medications. The WED and School Committee want that money. God forbid they find out there are still a couple folks left that can still keep their houses. The bloodsuckers will want that money also. I still say the entire School Committee and Donoyan should be tarred, feathered and run out of the city on a rail. They are nothing more than leeches.
Meesh May 19, 2012 at 11:40 PM
If you check the following link, you will notice that there is a work session on Wednesday to discuss the FY2013 tax rate AND modification of the homestead exemption. Give it time and we'll end up just like Detroit. http://sos.ri.gov/documents/publicinfo/omdocs/notices/4297/2012/125702.pdf
Jan Allard May 20, 2012 at 02:42 PM
So, when we do get a hefty tax increase because of the school department, yes, Robert, school department, what about all city workers/teachers who don't live in the city, they can just look forward to their next paycheck, while the taxpayers have to pay the price? I think homeowners shouldn't have to pay for car the car tax increase since they are paying dearly on their homes. Let all the city workers, namely, teachers (500 of them) pay a fee for their share also. Share it equally since we are all victims of the WED administration and school committee's careless, brainless, stupidity.
Steve May 20, 2012 at 06:42 PM
Does anyone here know how the WED figures out how they come up with their budget? Typically, don't you figure out how much you have on the revenue side and then plan the budget accordingly? Example: City = 12.5 million State = 42 million Federal = 10 million Therefore our budget going forward is 67.5 million dollars and we plan our spending to coincide with our allocated revenue streams. Is this what is being done at the WED, so when they come up with the 70+ million dollar budget, they know exactly where that funding is coming from the city, the state and federal funds? Do they even take these factors into account, or are they just listing a bunch of line items, with no regard of the revenue stream that are supporting this budget, knowing full well that the city and it's tax payers are on the hook for any deficits they run in 2012 and 2013 going forward. Mr. Ward, Dr. Donoyan, Mrs. Forcier, seeing how you're a PHD, CPA, and such, how about shedding some light on this question? Thank you folks........
Jan Allard May 21, 2012 at 11:58 PM
Out of the mouth of babes, Dr. Annoyan stated that her job is to educate the children, and it's the city's job to fund them. Well, well, well, Dr. Annoyan, have you been a good doobie today? Since the cat has been out of the bag for over 4 months now, what has the school superintendent done to curb spending? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.... and nothing ever will because I think she lives in Willie Wonka's world!!
Novan for Life May 22, 2012 at 02:25 AM
Hey Jan what has our glorious mayor and city council done to curb spending?
Jan Allard May 23, 2012 at 02:15 AM
Hey Robert, the city side of finances is and was fine. In case you haven't heard, it's the WED that is short 10 million. Remember, the lying of the figures??? It's obvious you "need" the services of the school department or are an employee. Maybe you would like Central falls better..


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