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8-month report shows city headed to end year in black

As the ranks of municipalities faced with severe budget shortfalls grow weekly – it was Woonsocket last week – Warwick is headed for finishing the fiscal year in the black, according to a memorandum issued to City Council members by finance director Ernest Zmyslinski.

According to the analysis of the first eight months of the fiscal year, expenditures are at 52.62 percent of the total budget. This is down from a customary 67 percent for this point in the year, Zmyslinski reported.

Nonetheless, revenues are running 67.32 percent of the projected $273.9 million for the year. Of that total, the largest source is property taxes, accounting for $212.8 million. As of Feb. 29, $145.5 million in taxes had been collected.

“On the financial side, the eight month report was indeed good news,” Mayor Scott Avedisian wrote in an email yesterday.

Asked how he saw city finances going forward, Avedisian pointed out that the budget process has started as well as talks with the city’s three major unions – fire, police and municipal employees.

“As we begin the next round of negotiations with the unions, we seek to protect the good bond rating and balance the costs effectively. And since we are in fact in the process of putting together a budget for next year, it is a welcome sign that this year’s budget is doing well and that there is no draw down on the surplus this year,” he said.

The analysis gives an overview of expenditures by key departments, showing that the Police and Fire departments are slightly ahead of their budget for this time, as is the automotive division of the Department of Public Works because of an encumbrance for gasoline.

As for Fire Department expenditures, Zmyslinski notes that the City Council reduced the mayor’s recommended budget for overtime.

“Overtime is the major area of concern,” Zmyslinski writes.

As of Feb. 29 the city had spent about $2 million in overtime and that based on the current trend the final amount could be as much as $3 million.

“Reductions in other Fire Department line items will help reduce the impact of the additional overtime expenditures but it is clear that this department will end the fiscal year with a deficit,” reads the report. Zmyslinski suggests savings from other departments will be needed to offset the deficit.

Yet, overall, Zmyslinski casts a positive picture.

“Based upon the information at this time, both the city and school department are expected to end the fiscal year on a positive note,” he concludes.

Avedisian attributes the city’s financial position, in part, to his policy of the past several years of not floating any new bonds even though voters approved them. He said the city’s bonded indebtedness is $18.7 million and schools are at $33.7 million. This does not include either sewer or water bonds that are paid for by revenues generated by those enterprise funds.

“But you can see that the fiscal constraints that we put into place are paying dividends,” the mayor said.


Comments
3 comments on this item

Starting off pretty early with the smoke and mirror, Next he'll be blaming the schools, Flood or the tropical storm for the tax increase this year.

for one thing to much money is being used for the school system there is no need cuts should be made with sports and other non educational

classes teachers should be paying more into there health care and there should be cuts in the bus system you see it every day a parent can stand at a bus stop with there kid till the bus arrives why cant they just drive the kid to school and teachers should only be paid for the 180 days they work not for the whole year

But you can see that the fiscal constraints that we put into place are paying dividends,” the mayor said.

We finished in the black because the mayor raised taxes 4% and increased the car tax. And he has already said he doesn't see any way the city wont raise taxes 4.25% this year. If the mayor cares about the city, the new contracts will be far less generous than the expiring contracts.

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