Receiver: Merge Central Falls/Pawtucket
“The problems are so severe that they cannot be solved solely through efficiencies and additional revenue at the city level,” he wrote. ” … state action is required if the city is to avoid fiscal collapse in its immediate future.”
The major problem is the city, with an annual operating budget of about $16 million, is facing about $48 million in pension and after-retirement obligations, he said. Essentially, the city spent years giving out pension and retirement benefits without figuring out how to pay for them, he said.
That mistake was exacerbated by municipal officials who didn’t notice or appreciate the problems, he said, ignoring them when they were manageable and only reacting when it was too late.
A merger with Pawtucket would put Central Falls in a municipality with similar demographics and issues, Pfeiffer said….The lower income population of Central Falls would make it easier for Pawtucket to attract government grants, he said, and the increased population would make the new combined entity the second biggest city in the state, enhancing its legislative clout.
Pfeiffer outlined a plan, which, interestingly enough, would basically involve statewide reform. It includes:
1) Consolidating pension funds across the state and modifying the current system (ie; increase retirement age, payouts, etc.)
2) Implementing a statewide health insurance plan for government employees at the state/municipal level.
3) Reforms to how Collective Bargaining Agreements are constituted, including a “zero-baseline” re-negotiation mandate every 10 years to account for changes in fiscal situation of the municipality.