“We’re taxpayers, too,” says Jean Bouchard in explaining that the greatest challenge for city workers is to maintain the current level of municipal services as efficiently as possible.
An account specialist with the city’s treasurer’s office, Bouchard was re-elected to her fourth 2-year term as president of Local 1651 of Council 94 of the American Federation of State County and Municipal Employees on Nov. 9.
“I was happy with the number. It was overwhelming,” she said of the race between her and fire dispatcher Raul Roy.
Bouchard served as treasurer of the local for 10 years before running and being elected president. Her tenure has been defined by her cooperative efforts during a period where the city has been faced with a loss in state aid, and in particular reimbursements for motor vehicle tax revenues resulting from the state’s $6,000 per vehicle exemption. Those reimbursements totaled $12 million a year and in order to offset declining state revenues during his administration, former Gov. Donald Carcieri started eliminating quarterly payments to cities and towns in the midst of the fiscal year.
This left the city administration scrambling to avert a local deficit. Municipal employees and police were the first to step to the plate to help balance the city budget by taking furlough days and postponing contracted pay raises.
Bouchard played a pivotal role in working out an agreement enabling the city to avoid deficit spending and complete the fiscal year in the black.
Three of the city’s contracts: municipal employees, police and fire, expire June 30, 2012.
Bouchard said negotiations have not been scheduled.
She said a part of what makes Warwick an attractive municipality “is what we provide … that is why we live here.”
Yet, she said as taxpayers, municipal employees are sensitive to cost and therefore are also looking for ways to provide services cost effectively.