The general election is one week away, and the eight candidates for Warren Town Council were asked the following this week: If you are elected to the council, what one plan will you bring to the table? Note that the responses are listed in the order received.
Richard Silva (D)
An initiative I would introduce is to have a lean assessment completed on all town departments to determine if they are working in the most efficient manner, not necessarily to eliminate staff but to gain efficiencies among departments. The assessment would reduce non-value added activity, uncover process waste, and increase productivity. It would ascertain if processes are being duplicated, if they are done only because it has always been done that way and is it being done in the correct department. This would be a start to assisting new businesses with the permit and license process.
Chris Stanley (R)
Clearly, in order to strengthen our local economy we must make a significant commit to move the town forward and make it business friendly. Therefore, I drafted a job description that empowers an individual to personally shepherd each new business through the various planning, zoning and licensure requirements needed to do business in Warren. I will present proposal before the full council so it may debate its merits and ensure that we investment in our economic future during the upcoming budget cycle. This person will work under the general direction of the Warren Town Manager, in cooperation with the Warren Town Council, to implement an economic development program and promote the growth of the Town’s economic base, assist in the retention and expansion of existing businesses, and vigorously seek out new businesses for the Town of Warren.
David Frerichs (D)
The sign ordinance is an absolute nightmare. It needs to be totally updated and it’s not business friendly. We don’t want a proliferation of signs but we need them to be attractive and get the point across. I don’t believe a double sided sign should count as double the square footage. That’s only one point of many that needs to be fixed. I would push this forward to bring it to a vote.
Joey Depasquale (I)
With $13 million of our budget going to our schools, an equitable school funding formula is one of the most important issues facing our town. The largest part of our budget and totally out of our spending control is Warren’s contribution to our schools. I will work to bring a resolution forward that will satisfy the Department of Education and bring an equitable school funding formula for Bristol and Warren Regional System, that Warren taxpayers can afford. When compared to a non-regional school system, our current formula does not take regionalization into account in how we are taxed, and when our state aid is subtracted from our contributions, Warren is contributing $5.4 Million and Bristol $5.6 Million, this is not equitable and I will work hard to bring an equitable School funding formula forward that we can all live with.
Brian Mellor (D)
In general I would review those that restrict businesses from locating in Warren. We need to make it easier for businesses to locate here and help reduce the tax burden on residential tax payers. Specifically, I would add some flexibility to the sign ordinance. Business people have been complaining about the rigid enforcement of the town sign ordinance asking for minor exceptions. Recently, a gas station wanted an exception to use the gas company logo sign that was slightly bigger than the ordinance would permit. Giving a little would help businesses save money and bring revenue into Warren.
Davison Bolster (D)
Submitting an application for the $100,000 Trails Grant to develop Town-controlled sections of the Warren Riverwalk will be priority to meet the grant deadline. The RI DEM Recreational Trials Grant Program is sponsored by the DOT Federal Highway Administration to provide funds to develop and maintain recreational trails and trail-related facilities. The application could include maps, cost estimates, and construction & signage plans.
Eligible projects for these grants include: Maintenance & restoration of existing trails; Development & rehabilitation of trailside & trailhead facilities & trail linkages; Construction of new trails; and Acquisition of easements or property for trails.
On waterfronts around the world, riverwalks are recognized as a great way to provide public access and generate business activity. The goal is to get people to the waterfront and experience our maritime heritage, without interfering with industry or residents.
Scott Lial (I)
There needs to be immediate action to address the long-term challenges that face the town with regards to the budget, specifically the school funding dilemma. Budget sessions will commence shortly after the new Council is elected and working towards a solution will be paramount to a successful budgeting process.
We must work collaboratively with the legislature to revisit the funding formula for the Bristol Warren Regional School District to correct the current imbalance that exists. Steps have already been taken through a Joint Finance created sub-committee to identify possible solutions. Yet, the burden lies with the newly elected Council which must work with our local Representatives and Senator to create a viable plan of action for the remaining years of reduced State funding and beyond that, for the overall future health of our education system. I will push to schedule this collaborative meeting, which will provide further clarity during budgeting and ultimately create the plan of action moving forward.
Cathie Tattrie (D)
What I would like to put forward is that a workshop is held with the Town Council and review the parts of the Comprehensive Plan revisions that are considered finished and now sit in draft form. The Council could then decide what we would like reworked and/ or, if we would like to approve those portions. This would give the opportunity to not rush through the full plan when it is finished. It breaks it down into smaller pieces, giving each section the consideration and discussion it deserves.