East Providence City Council gives first approval to amended FY2013-14 budget

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EAST PROVIDENCE — The East Providence City Council gave unanimous initial approval to an amended version of the Fiscal Year 2013-14 Budget during a workshop held Wednesday night, Oct. 9, a proposal that increases the tax rate by three-quarters of a percent and holds the line on impending Homestead exemption and early pay incentive decreases.

“It’s an excellent job, a tremendous effort went into revising this budget and reducing expenditures,” Council President James Briden said at the conclusion of the workshop. “This process and the result are a reflection of some very hard work and it’s a great success for this Council and our city.”

The Council made its decision on the tax hike upon the recommendation of newly-seated Fiscal Advisor Paul Luba. At another workshop last week, the Council first signaled it wanted to raise the rate by only half a percent, below the one percent proposed by City Manager Peter Graczykowski and what the former Budget Commission had suggested in its five-year plan.

“Given the potential instability in some of the revenue streams, I’m probably more comfortable with the quarter percent addition to the tax increase to three-quarters of a percent,” Mr. Luba, an appointee of State Director of Revenue Rosemary Booth Gallogly, said.

In addition, the Council opted to freeze the Commission’s plan to decrease the Homestead exemption, leaving it at its current 13 percent. Likewise, the Commission’s plan to cut the early pay incentive for taxpayers was frozen at its current 1.5 percent.

The three provisions each passed on 5-0 votes.

Overall, the Council opted to trim about $960,000 from the original outlay of $167,762,530 submitted by Mr. Graczykowski and Finance Director Malcolm Moore. Roughly $3.75 million of remaining surplus dollars will be set aside to help augment the city’s attempt at fiscal year synchronization with the state. The Council also accepted in total the $72,858,459 budget proposed by Schools Superintentent Kim Mercer.

“I would like to assure the Council and the residents of the city we did a detailed, line-by-line review of this budget,” Mr. Luba said, offering specific acknowledgement to Councilors Tom Rose and Chrissy Rossi for their extended efforts in the process.

“I really believe, in my opinion, this was a really good budget review,” he added.

The Council backed away from its original intent to veto pay raises for department heads and other non-union personnel. Instead, on a narrow 3-2 vote, it approved a two percent Cost of Living Adjustment.

Ward 3’s Mr. Rose, changing his initial stance against the measure, joined Ward 4’s Mrs. Rossi and At-Large Councilman Tracy Capobianco to vote in favor of the raises. Mr. Briden and Ward 2’s Helder Cunha, as they were last week, remained in opposition.

In explaining his change of heart, Mr. Rose said it had been about four years since most non-union personnel had received any increase in wages. Mr. Luba, prodded by a question from Mrs. Capobianco, voiced his support for the raises.

The Council took four other votes, approving each item. A Law Department position was kept in the budget on a 4-1 vote, Mrs. Rossi voting against. Mr. Briden also voted against the addition of a Highway Department position in a 4-1 tally. He and Mr. Cunha were in the opposition to a plumber position by a 3-2 vote. And the Council agreed completely on a position for the Building Department.

The Council holds its regularly scheduled second meeting of the month on Tuesday, Oct. 15. A public hearing on the FY13-14 Budget was scheduled for Wednesday, Oct. 23, at 7 p.m. in the City Hall Chamber.

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One Comment;

  1. epheritage said:

    Dear EP Residents,
    The 2nd public hearing on the 2013-2014 Budget is scheduled for this evening October 15, 2013 @ 7:30pm, City Hall. Please support the East Providence Recreation Department by attending the meeting and voicing your opinion. If you can’t attend, please call your council rep and tell them to reject the City Manager’s proposal of removing the Recreation Department from the City Charter and placing recreation & Pierce Field under the administration of the Senior Center. His new department would be called “Community Services”. The Recreation Department has been in the City Charter since the early 1960’s and has done an excellent job in providing quality recreation and parks programs for all age groups including the development of the Heritage Festival in 1981. A recipient of many awards, the East Providence Recreation Department was chosen several times by the National Recreation and Parks Association (NRPA) as a First Place awardee for its successful programming in the areas of Arts & Humanities. Additionally, in 1984, long before the Senior Center was built, the department was honored in Washington, DC by the US National Council on Aging for its comprehensive Senior Programs.
    The City Manager justifies his proposal by calling it “consolidation” but actually it comes at an additional $11,000 cost to you the taxpayer since the Senior Center Director salary, as shown in the budget, would increase by $11,000. Granted, additional responsibilities would merit a pay increase but THIS “CONSOLIDATION” IS TOTALLY UNNECESSARY. THE RECREATION DEPARTMENT IS ALIVE AND WELL AND PERFORMING EXCELLENTLY EVEN WITH THE DRASTIC CUTS MADE TO ITS BUDGET WITHIN THE PAST FEW YEARS. Of the 39 cities and towns in RI only 5-Exeter, Little Compton, Portsmouth, Tiverton and West Greenwich do not have a Recreation Department. All other cities and towns in RI and across the nation have a Recreation Department or a Parks & Recreation Department. Heck, there’s even a TV show by that name. So let’s keep the Recreation Department in the City Charter!
    CITY COUNCIL – Non-Partisan

    WARD 1 James A. Briden – 17 Hollow Ridge Rd., 02916 323-8641 jbriden@cityofeastprov.com

    WARD 2 Helder J. Cunha – 101 Williams Ave., 02914 285-1504 hcunha@cityofeastprov.com

    WARD 3 Thomas A.Rose Jr. – 733 Warren Ave., 02914 952-8208 trose@cityofeastprov.com

    WARD 4 Christine A. Rossi – 29 Woodbine St., 02915 481-1721 crossi@cityofeastprov.com

    At Large Tracy Capobianco – 104 Merritt Rd, 02915 368-1851 tcapobianco@cityofeastprov.com

    MAYOR James A. Briden ASSISTANT MAYOR Thomas Rose Jr.

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