Holding the line of taxes

Councilman says it's time to change the culture

Posted

It’s time for some taxpayer relief.

That’s how Ward 5 Councilman and chairman of the Council Finance Committee Ed Ladouceur is approaching this year’s budget deliberations. And as a prelude to the budget debate, the committee voted to recommend denial of the Fire Department’s request for two new pumper trucks costing about $900,000 and $10,000 to buy appliances for its stations.

“This is a culture and it’s been in existence a very long time,” he said of the city support for the department respective to new stations, equipment, salary increases and added personnel. Ladouceur believes the department is excellent but he is not going to rubber stamp their wish list, or for that matter, the wish list of any other department in the upcoming budget process.

“The taxpayers are telling me they want some tax relief,” Ladouceur said. “We’ve got to slow down the spending.”

In an interview Friday, Chief James McLaughlin said he had hoped to continue the department’s ongoing apparatus replacement program.

“This is nothing personal,” McLaughlin said of the committee’s vote that was unlikely to be overturned by the full council at its meeting last night. The department has nine engine companies – one for each station – and two that are held in reserve. The reserve trucks were new in 1994 and 2000.

“They’re running, just older trucks with more issues,” he said. Had the council approved the new trucks they would have become part of the “front line” fleet with the two vehicles they replaced, at 1999 and a 2,000, replacing the reserves.

“It’s good to replace them and have a steady plan,” McLaughlin said.

Nonetheless, McLaughlin doesn’t see an issue if acquisition of the new trucks is delayed.

“The safety of the city is not compromised,” he said.

Ladouceur didn’t see that as of concern, either.

The committee likewise rejected the department’s request for $10,000 to replace station appliances. During the hearing the department shared bids received for appliances and explained a practice of replacing older equipment.

“I assure you we’re not replacing them just to replace them,” Assistant Chief James Kenney told the committee.

Citizen advocate Robert Cote pointed out that in addition to stoves and refrigerators station appliances include clothes washers and dryers and dishwashers. He suggested firefighters get a sponge and soap to clean dishes and noted they receive a $450 allowance to clean their clothes.

Cote told the committee to look at the entire fire budget and their ability to manage it.

“This is a kick in the teeth to the public,” he said, “at what point does the taxpayer have to stop paying for luxury items?’

Cote said he is “grateful” for the city’s firefighters, adding, “every year they come back and ask for more.”

Roger Durand echoed Cote.

“The taxpayers are fed up with increased taxes,” he said.

On Sunday Ladouceur said he’s simply drawing a line on Fire Department spending.

“This is all department heads,” he said, “if you don’t have all the information, it’s [expenditure request] is going to get held or voted down. I’m not playing with that anymore.”

Mayor Scott Avedisian was not surprised by the committee’s vote. He said bringing up the vehicle replacement program serves to put the council on notice that the city will need to replace aging vehicles going forward.

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richardcorrente

Ed Ladouceur is right. It's time for taxpayer relief.

My campaign was to "Cut - Taxes, Cut - Spending".

My plan included a salary cut for new employees, starting with my own. It included a moratorium on building permit fees which would cost small money up front while collecting more in real estate taxes forever, and tax rebates to attract new home buyers which, again, costs small money to receive big money over the long haul. These are some of the things that would lower taxes for all Warwick taxpayers. Mayor Avedisian has a plan as well. His plan is to raise taxes every year. We can't afford his plan any more, and I think he knows it.

At the finance committee meeting a few nights ago Rob Cushman noted that we have a budget. We overspend the budget. The departments ask for more. We give it to them and they overspend that money too. He posed the question "Why do we even have a budget if it is completely ignored?" I agree. Ernie Zmyslinski, the Warwick Finance Director, stated that "The budget is easy to understand if you just know how to read it." Seriously Ernie? I don't know an intelligent person in Warwick that believes our budget should be ignored, especially to the extent that ours is. The taxpayers deserve a budget that we can hold all departments accountable for. The budget should be the most a department should spend, not the least. Warwick should reward those departments that under spend and penalize those that over spend.(another part of the Corrente Plan)

Ed Ladouceur is right. It's time to take care of the 80,000 taxpayers that are paying the tab. It's time to "Cut Taxes - Cut Spending."

Thanks Ed, for holding the line for the taxpayers.

Happy Spring everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Tuesday, March 7, 2017
Thecaptain

Unfortunately, The Non- Taxpayers Mayor was unable to utter a single sentence that made any sense. With the WFD blowing thru their budget year after year, The NON- Taxpayers Mayor offers to give them a better salary package. Only a fool who doesn't understand, or who has never studied their budget would make such a comment. But that is pandering at its best. This year we just gave out $1,092,421 in unused sick pay bonuses. Yet the mayor says we cant afford to spend 60K on a new roof for the senior center. He should hang his head in shame as he is fiscally dysfunctional. The WFD has exceeded their budget by more than $20 million since 2008. $25 million if you include the unused sick pay scam. Why doesn't the Non Taxpayer Mayor ever make factual statements and have the ability to point to line items? Why hasnt he made a public comment about the abuses of the WFD and the continuance of un-reconciled budgets year after year? The council finally said no the the WFD because of the abuses that are now being recognized. Under the former finance chair Wilkinson with the dope Travis seated next to her, the wide spread abuses and expenditures went on uncontrolled. The only words you heard from those dopes was "MOVE FAVORABLE ACTION. They threw the taxpayers under the bus for a lousy $500 donation from the WFD. Corrente's buddies, the people he funded, the people who taxed us to death. But Corrente's idea of cut taxes must mean, "don't pay taxes". That is the lesson we get from him.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017
davebarry109

The fire department has gone over its OT budget since the early 80's or even earlier. Maybe Mr. Howell can do a story on that. I think if the taxpayers knew that for 30 years or more the WFD has not made budget, they would take notice.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017