`Hold down costs' is theme to budget process

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City department directors can expect to hear the same message they got last year when it comes to putting their budgets together for the upcoming fiscal year – hold down costs.

City Finance Director Ernest Zmyslinski said the budget process that involves department directors reviewing their budget projections and then meeting with him and the mayor to review those plans will commence this month and run through March. The message Zmyslinski is getting out now is “expect a lean year” and for directors to have their budgets “scrutinized” to ensure costs are contained and services maintained.

But Zmyslinski would also like to hear new ideas.

“I don’t want to say no at this point,” he said in an interview last week. He said he wants to encourage initiatives “and a better way to do things.” Overall, he said he’s looking for a “free flowing dialogue.”

Chief of staff and public works director David Picozzi, who will be preparing his own department budget in addition to being involved in the process of reviewing the budgets of other departments, said, “We always look to try to level fund and see where it goes.”

From the perspective of the department of public works, Picozzi said until the past week the snow removal budget went virtually untouched. That obviously changed with last Thursday’s storm and, according to the forecast for Wednesday, could see some more inclement weather. He also pointed out that fuel prices have been consistent and lower than in some years past.

Is there the prospect of not only basically level funding city operations but also for the first time in 17 years of holding the line on taxes?

“It’s always our goal,” said Picozzi.

That may be difficult with pressures for increased spending by the School Department. The School Committee and the Warwick Teachers Union have yet to reach a contract. Assuming an agreement is reached, every one percent in salary increases amounts to an additional $1 million in costs. On top of that, school finance officer Anthony Ferrucci projects a $1 million increase in health care costs plus another $1 million to complete technology upgrades, including distribution of Chromebooks to all high school students and $500,000 in normal step increases.

Schools could be looking for an additional $3 million to $5 million in city funding. Superintendent Philip Thornton pointed out Monday that the department has been “level funded” in so far of city taxpayer support for a number of years.

There’s a bit of relief to the budget picture.

Zmyslinski pointed out that tax abatements resulting from tax disputes dating back to 2006 have been implemented, meaning going forward abatements won’t be a major budget consideration. The tax disputes resulted from declining commercial property values. In many cases, rather than issuing a refund, the city extended a tax credit going forward. However, the largest of the refunds – $1,075,000 – went to Leviton Manufacturing as part of the $3.6 million budgeted for abatements in fiscal year 2016. In the 2015 fiscal year, the city paid out $4.8 million in abatements, and in the year prior to that $8 million, for a total of $16.4 million for the three years, according to totals made public by City Tax Assessor Christopher Celeste in November 2015.

The largest department appropriation in the current budget is for schools, making up $161.1 million of the $298.7 million total. (The school budget has actually been adjusted to $163 million.) City support of schools was level funded in the current year at $119 million.

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Justanidiot

we need a mayer who is for the taxpayers

Friday, February 17
Bob_Cushman

According to this quote: 'Chief of staff and public works director David Picozzi, who will be preparing his own department budget in addition to being involved in the process of reviewing the budgets of other departments, said, “We always look to try to level fund and see where it goes.”'

Let's examine how successful the Avedisian administration has been at level funding the budget over the years.

Property tax by year in millions

2004 - $237.8

2005 - $243.0, surplus reduced by $2.4 million

2006 - $255.1, surplus reduced by $2.4 million

2007 - $267.6, surplus reduced by $1.1 million

2008 - $273.3, surplus reduced by $4.0 million

2009 - $274.5, surplus reduced by $3.6 million

2010 - $275.0

2011 - $277.4, surplus reduced by $6.3 million

2012 - $276.6

2013 - $286.7, surplus reduced by $.8 million

2014 - $289.9

2015 - $293.1, surplus reduced by $3.6 million

2016 - $297.2, surplus reduced by $3.0 million

2017 - $298.7

Based on this track record, the probability of the Avedisian administration level funding the budget this year is slim to none.

Friday, February 17
richardcorrente

Dear Justanidiot,

Your words, however misspelled, are always wise.

In the November election I received 13,278 votes from serious taxpayers like you. I refused any Political Action Committee checks to keep my loyalty strictly catered to "The 80,000 taxpayers that are paying the tab".

My opponent, a career politician, received 237 PAC checks and Justanidiot, never has a PAC donated money to anyone without requiring something in return.

I am proud to represent the 80,000 taxpayers paying the tab, and you and I can refer to the 13,278 Corrente-voters as our "base" for 2018. Win or lose, my "Cut - Taxes - Cut - Spending" message is being heard and acted upon in every negotiation.

Keep promoting it and I will see you and them in 2018 my humorous friend.

Happy Spring everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Friday, February 17
richardcorrente

Dear Bob_Cushman,

I have often referred to you as "The most intelligent person in Warwick".

Your comments above are further proof, however you stated that "the probability of the Avedisian administration level funding the budget this year is slim to none". I don't agree that the chances are that high. I think they are an absolute zero, but maybe you're more optimistic than I am.

Happy Spring everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Friday, February 17
Scal1024

Rick, I'm curious where you keep getting 80,000 taxpayers from. You have used that number alot and although Warwick has 80,000 residents, not all of them are taxpayers. I would think a candidate for mayor would have an idea how big the tax base is, especially when he often talks about growing the tax base. Perhaps the reason you can never answer any specific questions on your tax proposals is because you've been doing the wrong math for over 2 years.

Again, to blame your loss on PAC money is foolish and pathetic. The people of Warwick didn't want a mayor who can't even be honest and tell them he consistently pays his car taxes late. Once again you ignore the facts and whistle past the graveyard that is your political career. The people of Warwick see right through you Rick. You can lie and pander all you want, at the end of the day the voters aren't buying this BS.

Did it ever occur to you that the "taxpayers" might want a "taxpayers mayor" who can actually pay his car taxes on time??? What a concept!

Friday, February 17
richardcorrente

Dear Scal,

The 80,000 remaining residents of Warwick is down by 5,800 from ten years ago and although that includes every man woman and child. They are all taxpayers either directly or indirectly through their parents.

My math Scal, is based on the U.S. Census Bureau. If I am wrong, the U.S. Census Bureau is wrong. My other facts come from the Board of Elections web site. If those numbers are wrong, the Board of Elections is wrong.

Fact: I accepted ZERO checks from Political Action Committees.

Fact: Avedisian received 237 checks. (one of which was from you and your organization)

Fact: I got 13,278 honest votes without buying one vote.

Fact: Avedisian can't say the same. (he now is indebted to 237 PACS!)

Fact: I am not a career politician.

Fact: Scott Avedisian is.

Hope this clears it up for you Scal.

Take good care.

Happy Spring everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

P.S. Have you ever wondered Scal, what would have happened if we had a level playing field? You know; no Political Action Committee involvement, just taxpayers? An honest election? I'll bet the results would have been different. I'll bet you feel the same way. Why else would you attack me on a couple of dollars while ignoring the $298+ million dollar budget? My car tax late fee won't cover it all Scal, I promise.

Friday, February 17
Scal1024

Rick, I don't think you understand it's about the principle. If it is only a couple of dollars, why not pay it on time? If excessive taxes are the reason (which I would think would be referred to as more than"a couple dollars") why not be honest with the taxpayers while you were running for mayor? Again, it's only a couple dollars right?

I'd love to hear what my organization is that donated money to the mayor. Also, I'd like to know how much I donated too. PAC checks aren't the reason you lost. A lack of understanding of the issues, a platform with no specifics, not showing up to the debate are the reasons you lost. Saying "cut taxes cut spending" while not being able to name one item in the budget you'd cut is why you lost. You had over $35,000 and signs plastered all over the city. Are you honestly suggesting you couldn't compete? If that's the case why would you run again? You self funded a campaign with thousands for 2 years while owing the city "a couple dollars". Sorry if the taxpayers don't want to put you in charge of budgeting.

Friday, February 17
Thecaptain

Its not that the Non-Taxpayer Mayor was late with "a couple of dollars", its the fact that every where he travels he leaves a trail of unpaid bills and litigation. Property taxes, utility taxes, car taxes, defendant in 14 civil cases, two civil cases as defendant against tenants, lost both, still refused to pay even after loss of appeal, court order and judgment. Then, he decides he can only pay $25.00 per month just to spite his tenant and takes 7 years to pay her back her damage deposit and costs of her damaged property due to his non- insured roofers who screwed up the job. Then there's the 9 years of contesting his child support.

From the court records:

" Further evidence that Plaintifff Corrente believed the order to be inequitable at its issuance is found in past court records from previous court appearances. The computation of Corrente's income has been the central focus of the past nine years of litigation.

Corrente has continually urged in past court appearances before different judges, that the Family Court's method of computing his income is inequitable because the court has not subtracted what he considers to be legitimate business expenses from his gross earnings. Appearing before Justice Michael Forte in the same matter on March 12, 1997, Justice Forte asks Corrente, "What's your annual income?" (Record, 3/12/97, page 12, line 7) Corrente responded , "Under $7000 per year, and I can prove that to you. My gross earnings is (sic) one issue. What I live off is a fraction of that, Yor Honor." (Record, 3/12/97, pg 12, lines 8-11) In the same court appearance, Justice Forte asked Corrente, "I'm asking you what your willing to pay temporarily until I can resolve this. If you're a good father - and I'm sure you're going to stand there and tell me that you are - then you're willing to pay something. How much?" (Record 3/12/97, pg 11, lines 8-13) Corrente responded - " I don't want to set a precedence (sic) Ten dollars a week is about what I can afford." (Record 3/12/97, pg 11, lines 14-16) to clarify Corrente's response, Justice Forte later asked,

The Court - "You're telling me, you can only pay ten dollars a week?"

Mr. Corrente - "Yes sir"

The Court - " You're telling me that on the record?"

Mr. Corrente - "Yes sir, I'll stand by that"

Mr. Watson - There is a W2 form that declares $40,000 in income in 1995

The Court - "What happened to that?"

Mr. Corrente - "Gross earnings, Your Honor, He's neglected to tell you the $25,000 that it cost me to make that, Your Honor."

The Court - " Well, we're going to have to wait. We'll deal with it at the hearing".

Mr. Corrente - "You cant look at gross receipts and consider them earnings, I wish you could."

In a court appearance before Justice Forte on January 28,1997, to determine his income for child support payments, Corrente stated on the record, "He (defendants attorney) does not know what my income is. All he know's is my gross receipts , and he's trying to manipulate this Court into believing that my gross receipts is my income." (Record, 1/28/97, pg 3 lines 22-25)

This small sample of on the record statements demonstrates plaintiff's concern with the court's computation of his income - specifically his contention that certain business and/or personal living expenses should be deducted from his gross earnings. It also shows the amount of money that Corrente believed he could afford to pay for child support: $10.00 per week. Corrente was aware at the time of the issuance of the May 27th court order that the court had not deducted the amounts from his gross earnings thathe had wished. He was also aware the the court order stated he must pay $223.15 per week for child support payments: $213.15 more than he stated on the record he could afford. It is hard to imagine how this order could ever have been considered "equitable" by Corrente in light of his previous testimony. His statement on the may 27th record confirms this theory. "

Saturday, February 18
richardcorrente

Dear Scal1024,

If Political Action Committee checks weren't so important to Scott Avedisian's campaign, why did he solicit 237 of them?

And please stop trying to say that I never talked about how I was going to "Cut - Taxes, Cut - Spending". You know that's not true. I explained it clearly on my website as well as hundreds of fliers and Warwick Beacon ads. Scott Avedisian, on the other hand, didn't say one word about his plan because he didn't have one. He raised taxes every year for 16 years! Could you honestly be in favor of that?

Happy Spring old friend.

Rick

P.S. One more thing. You harp about my late fee on my car taxes and yet you say NOTHING about the hundreds of millions of dollars of future real estate taxes on over 100 homes that Scott Avedisian GAVE AWAY to the airport to extend the runway, and in return Warwick taxpayers received air pollution, water pollution, noise pollution, and soil pollution. Oh Scal! C'mon!!

Monday, February 20