Poll: Did Town Meeting Get It Right?

Didn't have a chance to attend Town Meeting Monday? Cast your ballot on the budget right here on Patch.

During Monday's Warren Financial Town Meeting, residents voted to affirm the Town Council's approved budget, which calls for level-funding Warren's contribution to the Bristol-Warren School District.

The decision is in opposition to the Joint Finance Committee, which mandated a 2.25 percent increase in Warren's funding. Failing to adhere to the committee's decision could put Warren in hot water, potentially making the town subject to a lawsuit.

Residents and elected leaders in Warren favoring level funding have said the school district is heavy in administrators and has more room to cut from the budget than the town does from its municipal spending plan. Proponents of increasing Warren's funding said the school district needs the money, and the town should be investing more heavily in its children's future.

Increasing the school funding could have triggered an increase to the property tax rate of 21 cents per thousand dollars of taxable value. The alternative would be to further cut the municipal departmental budget, which has already been reduced by about 10 percent.

Going with the Town Council's recommendation will decrease the town's tax rate by 11 cents per thousand.

So where do you stand? Were Town Meeting voters right to approve the level funding or should the town have increased its investment in the regional school district? Vote in the poll below and support your argument in the comments section below.

Erin Read Ruddick May 23, 2012 at 12:21 PM
Sadly, because the Patch's coverage of this issue continues to be one-sided, you are coloring the vote. It was pointed out on Monday night that a vote for the increase would have been an average per property taxpayer cost of $55 a year, about 15 cents a day. If you shared that analogy in your intro to this poll it would be more meaningful than the town's phrasing of "further cut the municipal budget." The town is not "potentially" subject to a lawsuit. It is subject to a lawsuit, and that lawsuit will be coming. Finally, the phrasing of the poll options is wrong. They are "Meet legal obligations to the Bristol-Warren School District and pay for the increased number of children from Warren in the schools" or "Level-fund the school district."
John Smythe May 23, 2012 at 01:12 PM
Actually, the poll should have read: -Continue to have unfair representation on school department decisions -Fight for fair representation It's not about the $55, it's about unfair representation. Once that is resolved, we will notify the school department that is spending out of control and needs to operate like a responsible business. Foster-Glocester reduced it's budget by 0.24% this year in recognition of the poor economy. Enjoy your trust fund while the rest of us fight for what is fair.
Erin Read Ruddick May 23, 2012 at 03:08 PM
"Trust fund?" I am a single working mom who has taken multiple paycuts in recent years, seen my company's workforce reduced, and still pay my taxes on time and in full. I am fairly represented - as are all Warren residents - on school department decisions by our school committee members. They are professional and hard working. I take advantage of opportunities for representation by showing up at JFC and other meetings and expressing my opinion. The fact that you regularly post comments on the Patch using a fake name proves you're not fighting for what's fair, just picking fights.
John Tattrie May 23, 2012 at 08:54 PM
Nice to see that the tax-payers actually struck a nerve on the School System. Time to stop throwing money at a problem and actually correcting it. I'm all done throwing my hard earned money at the School System so some administrative person can make six figures. And with all the educated people on the school board, you think they would have learned not to send out a budget with just zero's in it. Then "Threaten" the Town with a law suit. I say bring it on! And if the Town should lose, so be it....then we can end up like Central Falls and the problem gets resolved either way. The spending has to stop sooner or later and by what-ever device or path it should follow an end will come to the issue of over spending. This School System issue makes the BCWA look like a walk in the park, The Schools spend money like drunken sailors. And then expect us all to trust their wisdom without any hard paperwork to back it up. I think this is the biggest joke of all.
karen lynch May 23, 2012 at 11:17 PM
Wow, Central Falls...you may be happy with that kind of education for your children, but I certainly won't accept it for mine, not when the town of Warren contributes 46% of their budget, 5th from the bottom to its school system and 54% goes to the municipal side! Don't worry about striking a nerve with the School District; you are the one trying to whip up the public with misinformation and rhetoric. We have complete trust and faith in our Finance Director, Pauline Silva as well as our legal standing on this issue. If you want fair representation on Joint Finance, work with the Task Force to find a better solution. That was the arrangement agreed to by voters over 20 years ago by both towns. If you don't like the way the current enabling legislation represents Warren, work with the Task Force to find a solution instead of just continuing to complain about the same thing over and over again. As far as "hard paperwork", Ms. Silva held a special meeting long before Joint Finance to explain how to read the 900 page document. No one from Warren chose to attend. When Ms Silva handed over the full document before Joint Finance, she again publically and in writing offered to sit down with anyone who had questions regarding the budget, again no one Warren ever asked. We have always had the "hard paperwork" to back up our budget, if Warren officials don't understand how to read it, it's because they didn't do their job and find out how.
John Tattrie May 24, 2012 at 01:14 AM
Karen, I will bet you a steak dinner at the Capitol Grill, that there is no way in hell anyone outside of the school system will ever get to see a break down of the School budget the way the municiple budget is broken down. And as far as going to those meetings, I used to go in the past...It was a waste of time, the answers were always the same "We can't answer that". In fact I have a recording of it, your welcome to listen to it! Like my comments or not, when a municipality goes broke, thats it for our outdated agreement, and quite frankly it wouldn't bother me in the least to see it happen. It would put an end to this nonsense once and for all. If you would really like me to work with the task force, they had better be prepared for a great many changes, because this 20 y/o agreement is just that 'Twenty Years Old" and not working anymore. In my entire life have never seen or ever heard of an outsider ever been allowed to see an actual break-down of a school budget, and Im willing to bet, you haven't either. Anyone can see what everyone makes in a municiple budget..show me what they all make and then we will continue this discussion. The council understands budgets quite well, when they are given to them with actual numbers! The sadd thing is people will use the excuse that the kids won't learn without that money. and we all know thats not true. I will call Ms. Silva and see if I get the actual pay amounts of all the administrators & staff. I don't expect any answers.
karen lynch May 25, 2012 at 03:05 PM
John, I accept your offer. I just got off the phone with Ms. Silva who said that she has yet to receive a call from you requesting that information. Ms. Silva said she would gladly meet with you anytime, any place and give you the information you are requesting. Contrary to your insisting otherwise, the School District budget is just as public as the Municipal budget. She will make herself available to you just like she did when she, Ms. Theis and School Committee Chair Bento came to Smith Funeral Home before Joint Finance to review the budget personally with your wife, Councilwoman Cathie Tattrie. She said she would even come to your house if that would be more convenient for you. I will also make myself available any time, anyplace, so I can assure the public that you were given the information you requested. In terms of the transparency of the budget, I have seen the break down of the School District budget many times. I was a member of the Budget / Facilities Sub Committee for two years and the budget was always presented and broken down in OPEN SESSION every year and since Mr. Brule was a member of that Sub Committee at the same time, he knows that to be true. In addition, a copy of the budget is posted on the district website for anyone to access. * Continue to next comment, apparently I ran out of characters.
karen lynch May 25, 2012 at 03:05 PM
As far as the Enabling Legislation, there are many of us who believe it is time to re-look at that document with 20 years behind us and see what is working and what isn’t. One of the charges of the Task Force is to explore that possibility. At the last Task Force meeting, the representatives from Warren; Chris Stanley, Tom Gordon and Paul Brule, the Vice Chair of the Task Force didn’t even bother to show up and only Chairman Stanley e-mailed that he was unable to attend. So, I say, come to the meetings along with your Warren representatives and try to be part of the solution instead of continually complaining about the process. Again, Ms. Silva and I will gladly meet you any time next week after Memorial Day, any time, any place to answer any questions you have regarding specific information in the budget. Ms. Silva would also like to extend this invitation to anyone else who would like to attend. Please, let me know when you are available to meet and be sure to bring that $100 gift certificate to Capital Grill with you, Ms. Silva and I both love Steak!!!!
Gina May 25, 2012 at 03:35 PM
Wait a minute...Are you saying the the total breakdown of the budget WAS shown to someone on the town council ? With those numbers Mr. Tattrie is requesting ?
karen lynch May 25, 2012 at 04:52 PM
I am saying, that that meeting took place with the people I named at Smith Funeral Home where Ms. Tattrie works before Joint Finance and Ms. Silva our Finance Director was there with the budget specifically to answer any questions Ms. Tattrie had. This information was there all along and our Administration offered numerous opportunities in the press, in e-mails, in writing and by hosting meetings to answer questions regarding how to read the budget and on the budget itself. No official from Warren including Tom Gordon who was asked personally in writing chose to attend the meeting or ask questions except Ms. Tattrie at the meeting I mentioned. Apparently, it is easier to jump on your soap box and slam the School District for wrong-doing than to actually ask questions and get answers that don't fit into your political agenda. There I said it...POLITICAL AGENDA!
Gina May 25, 2012 at 05:12 PM
Thank you for the response...
Bob Venice June 20, 2012 at 12:46 AM
Please advise. Now that we know that Bristol is to bring us to court over the School budget, and that we have already been told By the Warren Town Council that it will not cost the Warren Tax Payers anything, then who pays the court cost and money that Bristol spends during this court case if Bristol wins and we lose..
Bob Venice June 20, 2012 at 12:49 AM
Why has'nt patch brought up the fact that Bristol is going to sue us over the School budget. It has already been in the Bristol Phoenix.
karen lynch June 20, 2012 at 04:32 PM
Just to clarify, the Town of Bristol is not sueing the Town of Warren over the School Budget. The School District voted to authorize their solicitor to commence whatever legal action is required on behalf of the Regional School District and / or Regional School Committee to seek to require the Town of Warren and its Treasurer to pay the Regional District the correct amount for FY 2012-2013 as required by the Joint Finance Committee pursuant to the duly enacted Enabling Legislation.
Cathie Tattrie July 10, 2012 at 07:56 PM
The meeting was between Mrs. Silvia and myself only. I was given analysis by function codes. When you look at our municipal budget, you can see how much each department head makes, how much we spend on office supplies, how much each department spends on clerical, etc, The school budget that I was shown is MUCH more general and broken down by funds and function codes. We are talking apples and oranges here.
Cathie Tattrie July 10, 2012 at 07:57 PM
The meeting was set up very short notice and I was the only one available to attend, and again, it was just Mrs. Silva and I.
Cathie Tattrie July 11, 2012 at 03:21 PM
Gina, the answer to that is no. Not broken down in simple numbers. Always clumped by functions and codes. It really is not as transparent as the town budgets.


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