Meanwhile, About that 13% Supplemental Tax Bill …

Without losing sight of the 38 Studios situation, other matters around the state continue to move inexorably forward and, therefore, command our attention. Not the least of these is developments regarding the city for which, ominously, a budget commission has already been assembled, though not sent in.
So, in order to stave off that budget commission and the route of receivership which it represents, Woonsocket solons had requested from the General Assembly approval for a 13% supplemental tax (which would then form the basis for the tax rate going forward). The Senate approved it in early May. Next stop, the House. Finance heard it Tuesday but

After hearing testimony from both residents and city officials Tuesday, the state House Finance Committee postponed action on legislation that would have authorized the unpopular 13 percent assessment.

Thank you for interpreting the legislative tea leaves, Mr. Bruce.

The city’s finance director, Thomas Bruce, said later he assumes the bill will not come out of committee.

With the end of the fiscal year approaching and unpaid (to the tune of $5.9 million) vendors understandably stirring around, time is fast running out. Unfortunately, the passage of time doesn’t change the strong likelihood of a supplemental tax, only the party asking for it.

Insiders suspect that [State Director of Dept of Revenue, Rosemary Booth Gallogly] may act quickly to put a city Budget Commission in place, stepping up the state’s intervention in Woonsocket’s fiscal problems.
City residents shouldn’t make any extravagant purchases if they have extra money set aside for the tax just yet, however. The Budget Commission could make another attempt to get the supplemental tax bill passed by the state. If new legislation is submitted, the process will start over, and the bill will head back to the Senate.

UPDATE
In comments, City Council President John Ward advises

So, the day has come. Our House delegation has delayed our supplemental tax legislation long enough to bring us to where the school department accounts were overdrawn yesterday by almost $300,000. RIDE is withholding state aid because payments can’t be made to special education vendors. We can’t rely on our Reps to get the bill through, and we can’t borrow money without passage of the bill. The same General Assembly created an education funding formula that punishes poor cities just because they are poor. So on Monday’s Woonsocket City Council agenda is a resolution requesting that the state appoint a budget commission for Woonsocket. Not because we don’t know how to solve the problem, but only because our local rep’s delayed a good plan until the cash crunch caused a collapse. And now they’ll try to blame us.
We will manage this problem to a successful conclusion despite this unnecessary setback.

And today, the Woonsocket Call reports on a highly related development.

The bill to allow Woonsocket to assess a 13 percent extra tax on property and vehicles in the city appears to be headed for passage.
The House Finance Committee has scheduled a special meeting for Tuesday afternoon at the Statehouse and a vote on the Woonsocket bill is the only item on its agenda. …
How about when it comes to the House floor? “It all depends on the amendments that are proposed,” [House Spokesman Larry Berman] said. “Put it this way, in the normal course of events, when a community asks to raise taxes and they have the support of the local representatives and the local officials, we normally do pass them.”

It’s not at a clear whether this will be soon enough to forestall the Council’s resolution to precipitate a budget commission or, even more critically, address the dire situation of unpaid school vendors.

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John WardD
John Ward
10 years ago

From my Facebook posting this morning..
So, the day has come. Our House delegation has delayed our supplemental tax legislation long enough to bring us to where the school department accounts were overdrawn yesterday by almost $300,000. RIDE is withholding state aid because payments can’t be made to special education vendors. We can’t rely on our Reps to get the bill through, and we can’t borrow money without passage of the bill. The same General Assembly created an education funding formula that punishes poor cities just because they are poor. So on Monday’s Woonsocket City Council agenda is a resolution requesting that the state appoint a budget commission for Woonsocket. Not because we don’t know how to solve the problem, but only because our local rep’s delayed a good plan until the cash crunch caused a collapse. And now they’ll try to blame us.
We will manage this problem to a successful conclusion despite this unnecessary setback.

Leo
Leo
10 years ago

John Ward says the following:
1 – General Assembly created an education funding formula that punishes poor cities just because they are poor
2 – our local reps delayed a good plan until the cash crunch caused a collapse.
And Mr. Ward wonders why the House is against his bill.
The “Fair” Funding formula is quite fair to Woonsocket …they receive 70% or more of the Education budget from the State (surrounding communities). But some pigs are never satisfied.
And what is his “good plan” other than punishing the taxpayers with a Supplemental Tax bill and asking for more State aid (taxes).
What actions has he taken to make the City affordable other than to complain that his poor City should be able to spend like their wealthier neighbors. Keeping up with the Joneses is not going to solve Mr. Ward’s problems.
Stop trying to make the City a Ward of the State and make deal with your problems today instead of tomorrow.

Bob
Bob
10 years ago

They’re giving up on the supp bill. State intervention is next!

Leo
Leo
10 years ago

Turns out that the Woonsocket Reps (Brien, Baldelli-Hunt and Phillips) will not be supporting the legislation unless it includes a request and approval for Receivership.
Apparently, the Council has a resolution for Monday night’s Council Meeting requesting a Budget Commission.
The Reps are none to happy, as they originally told the Council via an April 22, 2012 letter that they wanted the Administration and Council to request a Receiver to “work cooperatively with city leaders to effectively implement a restructuring plan that would be in the best interest of our entire community”.
They were led to believe that the Administration was going to do that (request a Receiver). As such, Reps were prepared to support the Supplemental Tax bill, but when they saw Monday night’s agenda requesting a Budget Commission, they pulled their support for the bill.
Not to worry …Judge Flanders will do what needs to be done. The Council and the Mayor will be schooled in the fine of art of actually getting things done as opposed to talking about getting things done.

Mike678
Mike678
10 years ago

Leo, Leo, Leo. Woonsocket is in trouble. It has so many needy people and a lousy tax base. It has a Republican Mayor trying to turn it around….and Democrat state Reps that just want to embarass the Mayor and town council. These clowns were going to pass the 13% supplemental IF the TC voted for receivership–i.e, the mayor was removed from power. Sounds more like blackmail and dirty politics than trying to help Woonsocket.

Leo
Leo
10 years ago

Mike, Mike, Mike,
It is not blackmail, it is doing what is needed to be done.
Mayor Fontaine and Council President Ward have had more than adequate time to deal with the City’s issues.
Mr. Fontaine was on the Council for 16 years, many as President, prior to being elected Mayor 2+ years ago.
Council President Ward has been on the Council for at least 6 years and was Chairman of the School Committee prior to that.
Trust me, they have had their opportunity.
Unfortunately, they predicated the City’s financial health and success on State-aid. These Republicans chose to hitch their wagons to the Welfare-state and when the State’s money ran dry, they too ran dry.
Such are the pitfalls of being a dependent …you lose control on your own destiny …yet they now complain about losing control to a Budget Commission or Receiver. They want it both ways, but we all know that is not possible.
A Receiver is now required to come in an clean up the mess and create a cost structure that will match the issues that you noted …a relatively poor & needy citizenry and a lousy tax base.
The City’s Reps are doing the right thing, because the local leaders are unwilling.

Mike678
Mike678
10 years ago

Leo–Why, exactly, should I trust you?
The state reps will vote for a supplemental 13%. The people of Woonsocket will be taxed one way or another–budget council or reciever. If the people of Woonsocket are paying the taxes, then they should control their own destiny. And what time did the Mayor have to deal with this problem? How long ago did the School Council/School district finance SNAFU come to light?
Ask yourself why the democrat state reps are forcing the town into recievership. I’d agree that recievership was the answer if the state were coming in to bail Woonsocket out–but it is not. Politics, not the well being of the people, are what’s in play here….

Dill
Dill
9 years ago

LEO, LEO LEO!
Your absolutely right!
This is not political. They are trying to do the right thing. Where was the administrations plan?
I personally know these two reps and they are deeply committed to their community. They do NOT want to hurt the taxpayers. Remember they are taxpayers too.

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