EAST PROVIDENCE — East Providence City Council President James Briden signaled his opposition to some of the significant changes offered in the proposed Fiscal Year 2013-14 Budget presented to his body last week by City Manager Peter Graczykowski and Finance Director Malcolm Moore, including suggested pay raises for the latter two administrators.
Mr. Briden, the city’s ceremonial mayor, said at first glance he would not approve the significant hikes for Messrs. Graczykowski and Moore as well as that proposed for Human Resources Director Kathleen Waterbury. All three raises reach into five figures, Mr. Graczykowski’s approaching $25,000 in total compensation (pension, benefits, etc.) increases.
“I do not support those raises,” Mr. Briden said late last week. “My objective is for us to adhere as closely as we can to the five-year plan laid out for us by the Budget Commission.”
The crux of the Commission’s five-year plan for the city included consolidation throughout all departments, the satisfaction of all unpaid expenditures and to fully fund its annual pension obligations among other points of note. The proposed FY13-14 Budget presented by the current city administration does not do the latter, taking some $2.7 million from the police pension ARC and putting it aside to in part pay for an anticipated change to East Providence’s fiscal calendar.
“That is an issue we need to discuss with our new advisor,” Mr. Briden said, referring to recently installed Municipal Finance Advisor Paul Luba. Mr. Luba was hired for the position, which continues the state’s five-year oversight of the city per the Fiscal Stability Act, the legislation that created the Budget Commission.
“Again, my objective is really to adhere to the five-year plan and to work with Mr. Luba and our Finance Director in that regard,” Mr. Briden added. “I’m looking forward to getting Mr. Luba’s analysis on this matter and many others.”
Mr. Briden also said he’d like to spare any additional burden being put on taxpayers in the near future at the very least.
“The taxpayers of this city need a break, and I’m not just saying that. I mean it sincerely,” he added. “When I walked the campaign last year I met a lot of people who are on fixed incomes that really can’t afford the slightest increase in their taxes. And we also have a number of residents who remain unemployed and have been for the last several years. You don’t often hear about them and they’re not part of the statistics because they’ve simply given up looking for work. They can’t afford any increases either.”