Now is not the time for silence. Town leaders need input from residents.
The Council worked diligently to keep spending down without cutting positions (which by the way are held by mostly town residents). We kept our budget within $0.01 of last years’ total. Do the residents of Warren want to have their taxes go up by approximately $0.45 per thousand? If that is fine with everyone, let us know. If it is not fine, we need to hear that even more.
The editor of the East Bay Newspapers is knocking the Warren Town Council for trying to keep a budget that does not add undue burden on our tax rate. Mind you, the writer of this editorial did not appear at any of our budget hearings, nor did any reporter from that paper. Instead the reporter took time out of our very busy Town Manager's day to ask questions about the printed budget he obtained from the clerk’s office. He did not see us agonizing over what is more important, cutting jobs or trying to spend less on each and everything we do as a municipal government.
I have no doubt the BWRS Finance subcommittee made some difficult choices. Budgeting is not easy and I applaud them in their efforts. The place where I part ways with their methodology is that they figure the state says we can give them 4% more than last year, and they apparently built a budget backwards from there. Now it may not have happened exactly that way, but the result is the same. And next year in keeping up that thought process, we need to give them 4% more than that, and so on, and so on.
There has to be some accounting for the fact that families in Warren are losing their homes, they are having to move out of their apartments to different towns because landlords are forced to raise rents. Bristol has double the amount of people to spread the additional funding out among so the effect of an increase is half of how it affects the Warren residents. So while the requested increase to Bristol is a 3.26% increase, the effect to Warren is a 5.32% increase.
There is much to be said about the enabling legislation being flawed. The original agreement may have had flaws, but the reality is, we are paying Blue Cross for life for way too many people. While Warren gave up all our neighborhood schools and added on to one for an updated elementary. Warren got out voted by Bristol; kept most of their neighborhood school intact; voted down one new elementary school; came up with Colt Andrews renovation which cost MORE than a new school and now declares there is not enough room at any of the schools for the increased enrollment. So you may have to forgive my reluctance to dole out more money than even I can afford on another increase in taxes.
Here is the purpose of this information. I am not saying this to try and polarize Towns against Towns or Towns against School Department. But the reality is, Warren could be in the same predicament as Central Falls, Woonsocket and Providence if we don’t protect ourselves. That is why people elected us, to look out for Warren. If the majority of Warren tells us to give the school department what they are asking for, we will give it and try to muddle along. But there will be cuts somewhere else. And it will affect families that live here.
If Warren asks us not to give it, then we will go that way. But some input from our citizens would be nice. We are here to serve you.