LETTERS

Warwick's biggest tax cost

Posted

To the Editor:

The budget for the City of Warwick is about $300,000,000. More than half of that goes to the School Committee. Now, let’s be clear. It doesn’t go to the schools. It doesn’t go to “education.” It doesn’t go to the “students” and it certainly does NOT go to the “teachers.” It goes the five members of the School Committee (SC). They then use their infinite wisdom to spend our tax dollars as wisely as they see fit.

How’s that working out so far?

Are they doing a great job or what? We have teachers with no contracts (for two years), students with no Chromebooks, buildings that are literally falling down and a budget process that is so secretive that it begs for an investigation. And why? Because Warwick doesn’t have a Home Rule Charter.

If we did (even Richmond has one), we could make them accountable at long last. As it stands today we give them $160,000,000 and say “spend it wisely.” Oh wait, I forgot. Once we give them our hard-earned tax dollars, we can’t advise, suggest or even request they tell us how they spend the millions of tax dollars that are now exclusively under their control.

The old saying that “power corrupts” is a very appropriate definition of the School Committee. They have $160,000,000 of power.

For years, I have been recommending that they submit to a voluntary audit. No one stepped up. I have often stated that the City Council should get their many questions answered “before we give them a dime.”

For example: The School Committee has a cash reserve for their medical benefits that has been growing every year for eighteen years with not a penny withdrawn from it in those eighteen years. Why? Because there isn’t any reason to take any money out. There never has been. There never will be. We simply don’t need a cash reserve account for medical benefits any more than we need a cash reserve account for the electric bill. As of today that totally unnecessary fund has about three and a half million of taxpayers’ money in it, sitting there doing absolutely nothing, and that is only one of their hiding places.

While the SC is crying poverty, they constantly attack the teachers, describing their desire for a new contract as “greedy.” Really? With all the money the SC saved by laying off over a hundred teachers they should be able to double the salaries of the remaining few teachers and still be able to give huge tax rebates to every taxpayer. They could start with the three and a half million from the unnecessary health benefits reserve.

Instead, they use terms like “level-funding” when the ever-decreasing number of teachers isn’t anything close to “level.” Instead, they are bringing their “agreement” to the court of public opinion. They deceitfully reported that they “reached an agreement” regarding the teachers contract. Who are they trying to con? They reached an agreement alright, but it was the SC agreeing with the SC. How stupid do they think we are? They think that by announcing it as a breakthrough in the Beacon, they can get the readers on their side when the teachers say, “What? We didn’t agree to that!”

That is like Governor Ramondo saying that her free education bill is “free” when it really costs the taxpayers over thirty million for the first year alone. Maybe the SC got this idea from her. Maybe the SC thinks they are smarter than us. Maybe the SC has been corrupted with power. Maybe the SC needs to be taught that the money they are spending on attorneys and public relations firms would be better spent on our teachers and students. Maybe the City Council needs to enter the discussion and meet (again) with the SC. Maybe two budgets are what Warwick needs – one for the teachers and one for the School Committee.

Maybe.

The one thing everyone can agree on is the SC needs to change. The taxpayers simply can’t afford to give them a blank check anymore. They have squandered too much money.

Happy Summer everyone.

Richard Corrente

Comments

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davebarry109

I'm not supporting the SC nor am I being critical of you because, well, you are you. But there is something wrong with your statement. You say you could double the salary of the 'remaining few teachers' due to the money saved by laying 100. Well, any businessman knows that laying someone off does not immediately save money. There is unemployment to pay. There are vacation days and sick days to pay out. Also, since I believe there were almost a thousand teachers in Warwick, laying off 10% or even 20% would not allow you to 'double' the remaining salaries. Salaries which are close to 100,000 for each teacher. I do agree that it is more important to know who you are voting for on the school committee than the mayor or governor. The school committee spends half of your tax dollars. Yet most people don't even know who they are voting for. A nice sign. A person who is 'for the kids' or who will 'put out kids first'.

Tuesday, January 16
Thecaptain

The one thing that we can all agree on is the Mayor Dumbness hasn't a clue to what he is talking about. He states "and it certainly does NOT go to the “teachers.” This statement actually proves how dumb and disconnected Corrente is. By his statement, it is obvious that he doesn't understand that 87% of the entire SC budget goes to salary and benefits. The remaining 13% is left to cover everything else. Building maintenance, grounds, repairs, fleet maintenance, etc.. etc... etc....

Yet the tax delinquent, bankrupt, squatter, self appointed care taker of the taxpayer gives yet more evidence of his complete lack of knowledge of any fiscal issue in the city. Notice that he doesn't make mention of now that the teachers got all that they wanted in the contract, that the city has to hit up the rainy day fund for millions every year, and ultimately taxes will go up again to support a substandard school system that produces substandard students by some of the highest paid teachers in the country.

One is forced to wonder what type of hallucinogenic the fake mayor ingested at the Woodstock Concert, that it would still be lingering in his blood stream 48 years and 5 months later. Must have been some good stuff !!

Tuesday, January 16
Thecaptain

"With all the money the SC saved by laying off over a hundred teachers they should be able to double the salaries of the remaining few teachers and still be able to give huge tax rebates to every taxpayer."

Yet another statement made under the influence !!

Tuesday, January 16
richardcorrente

Dear daveberry109,

Please understand that I was being sarcastic. I think you know that already. As you know, I'm not real supportive of the members of the School Committee, with the sometimes exception of Karen Bachus. You and I do agree that the School Committee "spends half of your tax dollars." That's why I have called for an independent audit of the School Committee budget from an outside source with the results posted in the Warwick Beacon. Seems to me (and a lot of people that I speak to every day) that if they had nothing to hide, they shouldn't mind having an audit. The results might show that they are not ripping off the Taxpayers like I have been claiming, for the last three-plus years. It would restore faith in the School Committee members, so people would actually know who they are voting for, not just "a nice sign" as you say.

Thanks for not mentioning the other comment I made when I said "Happy Summer". The reason for that is that this letter was originally sent to the Beacon in June, but the main message is not about the season or the "doubling of salaries". It's about the integrity of the SC members. Can you and I agree that their image needs a boost?

Happy Valentines everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Tuesday, January 16
Thecaptain

He admires Karen Bachus. Just to refresh your memory, when I called for a forensic audit of the school department and the implementation of GPS in all the vehicles, and an inventory control system, Bachus contested the point stating in public that GPS would be a violation of privacy and that an inventory system was too expensive and served no purpose. What kind of fool would make a statement like that when The Supreme Court has consistently maintained the premise that a public sector employee has no right to privacy while in the performance of his / her job. Yet Bachus shot it down.

By the way, this was during the time that David Laplante was the head of Maintenance. You all remember him right? He was the guy that was caught stealing in excess of $100,000 in merchandise of school property. All of which could have been avoided, at least in part, by GPS, an inventory control system, and an audit.

Just to refresh your memories, Laplante was also allowed to keep in excess of $22,000 of stolen goods because they were "afixed" to his property. Another reminder, that his wife is a Warwick School teacher and after his termination he was immediately allowed to get picked up on her healthcare with no rebuttal from Bachus or the fake mayor. There is still an outstanding issue as if he will be able to obtain pension benefits because the Dishonorable Service Ordinance put forth by Solomon and Merolla several years ago was shot down by Travis, Wilkinson, Place, Coluantonio, Donovan, and Gallucci.

So now that you have a bit of a history lesson, you can compare the facts and the reasons as to why the fake mayor has aligned himself with these panderers that have hijacked the democracy, ruined our school system, and put in place a series of events to protect the criminal dysfunctional employees and allowed the cancer to spread.

Nice going Richard and Sam Kineson!!

Tuesday, January 16
Kammy

"It's about the integrity of the SC members. Can you and I agree that their image needs a boost?"

I nearly lost my mouthful of coffee over that line. Kettle, meet pot! The only reason you take the WTU side is because they carry the numbers and you need those numbers in order to have a chance of winning the election at all. It is a transparent political move that fools no one. I certainly haven't heard of the WTU coming out to endorse you so while you get an A for effort, the end result is still an F.

There are indeed many issues with how taxpayers money is spent but you can bet your last dollar that I wouldn't want a mayor who is in the back pocket of the union to be the one leading the city. That is a recipe for disaster.

Wednesday, January 17
DannyHall

Richard,

Close to 90% of that budget goes to salary and benefits, I respect your opinion but to make that statement is just extremely false.

Friday, January 19
PaulHuff

Richard,

Once again we have to ask you to stop pandering. This entire article makes no sense.

Sunday, January 21
CrickeeRaven

Here is the verifiable and publicly available information about the FY18 school budget that the fake "mayor" does not read before making statements like the one above: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1C2grOY8Maga1eENE63c76T285ZMxFiIS/view

Page 5 of this document [which did not require an audit to access] shows that, of $165,753,523.86, $3,347,627.61 is listed as "capital equipment and property," representing 2.01% of the budget. This, apparently, is the "much of" the school budget that he insists should pay for the school renovations currently under discussion.

The rest of the budget -- fully 97.99% -- is for salaries and benefits and for meeting state mandates and other legal requirements like paying bonds, funding transportation, covering tuition costs for out-of-district placements, providing fire and building insurance, and other items.

Other commenters have also noted the inordinate amount of time the fake "mayor" spends attacking the school committee. As he has shown before, the fake "mayor" has no regard for facts when they do not fit his delusional campaign claims -- and the results will be the same this November, just as in 2016: His candidacy will be overwhelmingly rejected.

Happy 287 days until the fake "mayor" is again defeated by tens of thousands of honest, taxpaying Warwick voters.

Monday, January 22
CrickeeRaven

Warwick City Council Feb. 21, 2018

Thursday, February 22