Woonsocket Supplemental Tax Bill Stays Tabled

Stalemate between Woonsocket delegation and Governor unresolved at session's end.


Woonsocket's supplemental tax bill won't be happening after Gov. Lincoln Chafee rejected city representatives' last minute compromises.

Chafee and Woonsocket's House delegation disagreed on whether changes to the bill, proposed in the final hours of the General Assembly's session after weeks of talks on the issue, were reasonable.

The bill would've authorized the city to issuse new tax bills on a 13 percent tax increase to raise $6.6 million toward the city's $10 millon deficit. The bill would have led to an extra $3.15 for every $1,000 of assessed residential property value. For the owner of a home worth $150,000, that would mean a $472.50 bill. The supplemental tax would also tack on $4.51 for commercial property, and $5.81 for motor vehicles.

“We cannot force our residents to pay a 13.8 percent supplemental tax,” said Rep. Lisa Baldelli Hunt (D-Dist. 49, Woonsocket) in a release from the Legislative Press Bureau. “We originally started with a five-point plan and narrowed it down to a two-point compromise for the governor. But in the end, he said our proposal for an 8.5 percent tax, which would not have been added to the base, was not large enough.”

Rep. Robert D. Phillips (Democrat- District 51, Woonsocket) and Rep. Jon Brien (D-Dist. 50, Woonsocket) also joined Baldelli-Hunt in the push for a compromise.

Senators Roger A. Picard (Democrat - District 20, Woonsocket, Cumberland) and Marc A. Cote (Democrat - District 24, Woonsocket, North Smithfield) voted for the original bill when the Senate passed it.

Woonsocket's House delegation also asked for a measure allowing the city to push back the start of construction for the DEM-mandated wastewater treatment plant as part of their compromise.

“We made it known that we would be willing to meet in the middle, but we would not go back to the original proposal for the $6.6 million tax levy,” Brien said of their proposal. "It would have allowed the new Budget Commission to acquire the proper data to move forward, and I think that would have put our city on better footing to avoid bankruptcy.”

Director of Revenue Rosemary Booth Gallogly did not see it that way.

"While it might have been politically expedient for the Governor to cave to short-sighted pressures, the demands made by the House delegation were outside of the authority of the executive branch – a fact of which they were well aware. Additionally, the delegation’s demands would not have resulted in the required impact on Woonsocket’s fiscal situation. The Governor therefore had no choice but to reject these unrealistic requests," Gallogly said in a statement.

Gallogly said the Woonsocket City Council's attempt at the supplental tax was a brave move toward the only way to avoid further financial decline, demonstrating courage and foresight their representatives in the house failed to exhibit. "After many months of attempting to achieve consensus on a solution that would avoid fiscal collapse and additional state intervention, they failed to make the difficult yet necessary choice to protect the city and its residents in the long-term," Gallogly said.

Phillips said his thoughts were with the city’s residents. “I’ve grown even more concerned after seeing the number of homeowners on the most recent tax sale list,” he said. “This isn’t fair to them. I’m sure the governor’s decision today will not ease their minds.”

Members of the Woonsocket Budget Commission and Gallogly have both stated that without the supplemental tax, Woonsocket faces serious cuts in services. RIFuture.org reports the city may now seek receivership. During a speaking engagement for the Woonsocket Taxpayers Coalition April 26, Central Falls Reciever Robert Flanders said receivership would not save citizens from a tax increase.

The Woonsocket Budget Commission will meet today at City Hall at 3 p.m.

Novan for Life June 13, 2012 at 03:02 PM
HELLO RECIEVERSHIP THANK GOD get this administration outta here
Daniel Kaffee June 13, 2012 at 06:00 PM
Rep. Jon Brien, Rep. Baldelli-Hunt and Rep. Phillips deserve to be voted out this fall. They compromised themselves in the interest of Rep. Baldelli-Hunt's ambition to become Mayor next year. All three reps turned their back on the community and did nothing but obstruct the Mayor's administration and the independent budget commission.
Francis Hughes June 13, 2012 at 06:16 PM
I wholeheartedly agree. A Budget Commission was put into place, why did they not let it do its job. I do not like higher taxes, but what makes them think that receivership will not produce even higher taxes, there will be no checks on that process. I back Mayor Fontaine and the Budget Commission.
Bob C June 13, 2012 at 06:22 PM
Baldelli-Hunt's more concerned with her brother's check cashing business and her ambition to be mayor.
Sly June 13, 2012 at 06:28 PM
I respect both of you,But how can you not blame The Mayor on spending what he did not have,or even over looking the spending like he should have.Come on,The taxes will go up anyway no matter who's running what.Nobody is this City was given the Gods honest truth on How this happened, Here are your minds.Common sense even comes into play at some point.You both can back who you want or who did or didn't to their job but at the end of the day there were not enough tax payers to cover what we needed to.So let the chips fall where they will.Remember the nuts don't fall far from the tree.At least a Receiver as the power to change what needs to be changed and a plan to with it.
Debra June 13, 2012 at 07:03 PM
I agree, what is Fontaine so afraid of, the receiver digging into the City's finances and spending? Maybe that's what we need, someone to look over his shoulder. Obviously there is money that is being misappropriated. There was an ad for a job in the water dept. in the paper, why do we need so many people in the water dept? I don't get it. When you are driving around the city all you see are city worker's standing around, road work, water work, whatever, but they are NEVER doing anything. If I don't do my job I am fired, let's get some of that rift raft out of the city and put the money towards the schools.
Novan for Life June 13, 2012 at 10:49 PM
acyually IF YOU READ THE ARTICLE SHE ACTUALLY WANTED TO LOWER THE TAX FROM 13.8% to 8.5% so try reading before speaking Daniel...
Novan for Life June 13, 2012 at 10:51 PM
John L. Martel June 14, 2012 at 09:56 AM
Why dont they try something like a City sales tax???
Sly June 14, 2012 at 10:38 AM
Mr. Fontaine,A little angry are we.Well if you can't make decisions you don't belong in the seat your in..Practice what you preach.Oh that's right, your on your way out or lets see where the chips may fall.Are you talking about potato chips.You have to be most aggravting person in RI to hear talking. Give up the City vehicles you and all your Dept..heads are driving.Shut down 1 public works building and use 1 for all public works Depts.Those buildings on River St. are a good size.The teachers are still getting their step raises as we speak.WOW.You never made any good standing decision while you were anywhere.Nothing to say abour Mr.Ward everyone knows him and job he has done.Speaks for itself.
MAE June 14, 2012 at 11:16 AM
Are you kidding me?...really? What is there in this fair city to add sales tax too? Food stores?...i.e. Shaws or Price-Rite...Bars and restaurants? Mom and pop shops so we came drive them out of business? recreational facilities? Oops, we don't have any of those except gyms that homeownwes can't afford 'cause they're saving to pay their RE taxes, sewer taxes, water taxes and increased personal taxes. The school dept is running at barebones, as is the PD and the FD although the FD& PD could probably limit overtime which is very costly. The WED doesn't get overtime except maintanance. These depts are NEEDED especially in this city with the transiant population we have...however, I personally would like to see how understaffed the other depts are...such as water, sewer, highway, clerks in city hall. I see plenty of them not looking too busy. Not long ago, I watched 4 guys and three trucks hang a sign on an existing telephone pole which took 2 screws and 30+ mins. You want to add more taxes? Can you say, residency tax? Here's a thought...Knock down the damn projects...all of them: Morin Heights, Bourdon Blvd, Village Plaza, Rockridge, Cumberland St to name the biggest and get something useful put in those places...or have the feds let us use the money that they have to remodel these places to put into the city coffers to pay for the services they overuse.
DRS June 14, 2012 at 11:16 AM
Someone needs to step in and dig in our files and find out where we are spending our money... If we don't have enough okay raising taxes may happen but before taxes are raised I want to know where the money we are collecting goes first. Why give them more money to misuse.. also with regards to the water division hiring ad.. we have zero money but we are hiring someone at $500-$600 a week are you kidding me!!! Wake up people we can't afford what we have and we want to add to it.. If my company that I work for had this budget problems you can garrentee a FIRING FREEZE OR LAY OFFS...
Tommy Tutone June 14, 2012 at 11:34 AM
Tabled is the key word,Tom Bruce already plans to resurrect it in January.
KodakMan June 14, 2012 at 11:40 AM
The fury of liiberalism funneled through liberal Democrats and the public sector union leaders is about to engulf Woonsocket. Many of the comments expressing opposition to Reps. Brien and Baldelli-Hunt begin the process of political destriction. The legislators in question are accused of opposing the supplemental tax on the basis of advancing their own political ambitions. Woonsocket is bankrupt. Logic alone dictates that receivership or bankruptcy court are required. You cannot turn bankruptcy into another species of fiscal animal. It is what it is. Attempting to rob citizens with further taxes is a call to maintain the status quo. Liberal Democrats and union leaders will advocate such robbery, even though it is evident that many citizens will lose their homes and many businesses will fail under the burden of added taxation. Liberal Democrats know that most of their money comes from the unions. The unions in turn receive their clout from friendly liberal Democrats who make sure that the rules and regulations will always favor the unions. So the stage is now set as it was in other places, including Wisconsin, for a confrontation. (more)
KodakMan June 14, 2012 at 11:41 AM
(continued) Basically it will be liberal Democrats and the unions versus local government and the individual citizen who pays for local government. In Wisconsin the confrontation went to the level of violence and a huge amount of damage to the Wisconsin state capitol. It is not hard to imagine that a similar level of violence could come to Woonsocket. This is a fight to see who controls the show. Reps. Brien and Baldelli-Hunt have, for the moment, chosen to side with the taxpaying citizens and taxpaying businesses of Woonsocket. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was threatened with death. His home was surrounded by snarly crowds of union thugs. All because he did what needs now to be done locally. Be prepared for similar ugly incidents here in Woonsocket. Nobody enjoys this situation. But what needs to be done MUST be done!
btgolfer June 14, 2012 at 01:28 PM
I agree with you Sly- No one is talking about the unfunded pension and benefits that total almost $ 300 million. All of this was outlined in Baldelli-Hunt's lettor to the Mayor on April 22. In the letter, she and Brien, Cote, and Phillips say that " 61% of the city's tax levy or an additional $ 34 million per year is required to adequately fund its current post retirement obligations. Free lifetime healthcare with no deductibles for retirees- we can't afford it. The Budget Commission cannot modify union contracts, only a receiver.
Mike June 14, 2012 at 02:14 PM
Actually, if the corrupt General Assembly had passed proposed changes, local governments would have had the authority to change contracts without receivership. But it was killed by the same people who got us into this mess. Got to love 40+ years of single party rule! And those clamoring for a receiver may want to look to Central Falls and see how those people enjoyed the process--and their tax increases. Better to have some local say than a dictator.
Mike June 14, 2012 at 02:16 PM
You may be, but I'm more angry at self-aggrandizing fools that don't see the whole picture or prefer not to so to advance their agenda.
Mike June 14, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Seriously? The woman was willing to pass the supplemental if she got a good deal for her brother. This is siding with the taxpayer? Those clowns in the GA could have given us the tools needed to change contracts without receivership, but didn't--but they do pander to the uninformed and intellectually lazy. Finally, Scott Walker is a Republican--as is the Woonsocket mayor. Please don't try to tell us the party that got us into this mess over the last 40 years is trying to get us out of it. That dog won't hunt.
KodakMan June 14, 2012 at 09:25 PM
The argument persists at all levels, local, state and federal that blame rests with one party or another. Blame rests solely with LIBERALS. They infest BOTH parties. Liberals of both parties for 80 years have given away the store in return for making people dependent upon them and always voting for them. It worked for 80 years. It no longer works. Ultimate blame for a bankruptcy situation such as Woonsocket has rests with the voters themselves who have elected these liberals from BOTH parties for decades. Yet there is apparently still a majority of folks who just do not get it.
michael February 15, 2013 at 03:56 AM
I've lived in this city all my life . And I've seen at one time a very busy city . .And then slowly it started to change. I've seen many mayors come and go.some good some bad. I feel now that the city I once knew has gone to the wolves . We need to take our city back now. I feel that the people that are responsible for keeping this city on track ; either they can't get along or they are under qualified? What is it? It's getting pretty scary. A lot of people should open there eyes and see that were screwed !!!!!!


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