Chafee to appear before council; resolution on schools stalls
Gov. Lincoln Chafee is slated to appear before the City Council on Monday as it considers a resolution in support of his legislative package giving distressed cities and towns the power to suspend pension cost of living adjustments, among other provisions, to reduce expenses.
Chafee has taken his campaign for the bill’s passage to the public, appearing at municipal meetings and before groups across the state. Last Monday, Mayor Scott Avedisian joined him in a presentation to the Central Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce.
While most of the seven pieces of legislation in the Chafee package won’t affect Warwick, Avedisian has been supportive of the initiative and the council is expected to back it.
That couldn’t be said of another measure the council was scheduled to consider, but now will be held for at least a month.
Council President Bruce Place said yesterday he would move to hold a resolution to place on the November ballot a referendum on the creation of the Warwick School Committee. If placed on the ballot, voters would be asked whether to maintain the existing five-member elected committee, replace it with a committee appointed by the mayor and council or give the committee the power of taxation.
Schools, especially the school budget and line-by-line spending, has long been a bone of contention between the mayor and council on the city side and the school committee on the other.
“I think we need a change in the system as the decades-old us versus them system of governance does not seem to work. But I would like to see what other communities have done. The three options to be presented definitely allows for good discussion of the possibilities for radical change in the system,” Avedisian said in response to an email.
The mayor said, “There are pros and cons to the two prospective changes. If an appointed School Committee suggests a tax increase, then the voters can hold the appointing authority responsible. If the School Committee votes to issue higher tax bills on their own, they will have to defend that to the voters,” he said.
Place said he may even withdraw the resolution altogether.
“With the school budget coming up, it’s complicated,” Place said in a brief phone interview yesterday afternoon. “There is also legislation at the State House, which addresses some of the issues. Whether or not that legislation gets through both the House and the Senate could affect the legislation that I proposed.”