State treasurer Raimondo pays visit to Bristol

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Rhode Island General Treasurer Gina M. Raimondo visited Bristol on Friday, May 3 where she took the opportunity to speak about a topic near and dear to her – financial sustainability.

For about 45 minutes, Ms. Raimondo met with nearly 60 Mt. Hope High School students inside the school library where she handed each a certificate of completion for their involvement in the EverFi program, a computer based tool that teaches “all the basics they need to stay out of financial disaster.”

“As treasurer, I made financial literacy a priority,” Ms. Raimondo said. “My office has rolled out a number of initiatives.”

Among them, the EverFi program offers games on-line that promote and teach such topics as responsible use of credit cards and the importance of compound interest.

The program was started a year and a half ago and is offered in 40 high schools around the state. Seeking community partnerships, the treasurer’s office was helped by People’s Credit Union who funded the computer program for the Mt. Hope High School students.

After the awards ceremony, Ms. Raimondo was presented with a bouquet of flowers from the students as a thank you for her interest in helping them with financial literacy.

“They were very happy to learn it,” she said.

Roads and bridges visit

Continuing her mission to promote financial literacy and sustainability, Ms. Raimondo met with Bristol town administrator Tony Teixeira, town treasurer Julie Goucher and town department of public works director Jim Galuska to tour Bristol’s streets and explain another of her initiatives, the proposed municipal road and bridge revolving fund.

The proposal, she explained, is modeled after the Rhode Island Clean Water Finance Authority.

“Establishing a predictable, innovative alternative for cities and towns to finance their road and bridge improvements is an important cornerstone to building a vibrant economy for our state," she said.

While Ms. Raimondo is looking for the general assembly to pass legislation that will allow the state to set up the fund. Then the working details of how the fund would operate will be formulated.

Based on the framework of the proposal, Ms. Raimondo said that the state would initially invest in the revolving fund. Cities and towns, based on a third-parties assessment of priority would receive a loan from the funds at an interest rate “25 to 30 percent” lower than they would find elsewhere. The borrower would be under a legal, not moral, obligation to repay the loan over time.

While in Bristol, Ms. Raimondo was shown a map of the town with streets color coded to represent their condition. Red, she said, meant they were in desperate need of repair, yellow was in some level of disrepair and green meant they were OK.

“Just looking at that map, it’s a sea of red,” she said. (Mr. Teixeira) took us to Ursilla Drive. It’s terrible.”

Repairing roads, she said, will also help reduce the number of claims the town gets after potholes cause damaged tires, rims and other mechanical failures.

Ms. Raimondo said that such a fund will help municipalities plan ahead for road repair and not rely on a one time allocation of funds.

“In Rhode Island, we need to move past our time frames and allow cities and towns to make a plan,” she said.

When asked if such a fund could be used to alleviate the need for tolls on a span such as the Sakonnet River bridge, she was less optimistic.

“I don’t think so,” she said.

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.