GOVERNMENT

Woonsocket faces receivership

COURTESY WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
WOONSOCKET is facing possible receivership after state lawmakers and Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee failed to agree on a supplemental tax package to repair the city’s finances before the end of this year’s legislative session Tuesday night.
Posted 6/13/12

PROVIDENCE – Woonsocket is facing possible receivership after state lawmakers and Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee failed to agree on a supplemental tax package to repair the city’s finances before the end of this year’s legislative session Tuesday night.

Woonsocket’s three-member House delegation blamed the impasse on Chafee’s refusal to cut a 13.8 percent tax increase approved by the Woonsocket City Council earlier in the year down to an 8.5 percent hike.

“We cannot force our residents to pay a 13.8 percent supplemental tax,” said Rep. Lisa Baldelli Hunt, a democrat, in a Wednesday morning news release along with Rep. Jon D. Brien and Rep. Robert D. Phillips, also democrats.

“We originally started with a five-point plan and narrowed it down to a two-point compromise for the governor. But in the end, he said our proposal for an 8.5 percent tax, which would not have been added to the base, was not large enough,” Hunt added.

But the Chafee administration argued that the full supplemental tax was necessary and in a 3:30 a.m. statement issued after last-minute talks broke down Tuesday, Department of Revenue Director Rosemary Booth Gallogly accused the lawmakers lacking the “courage” to do what was necessary to keep the city solvent.

“Representatives Baldelli-Hunt, Brien, and Phillips have done their city and their constituents no favors by failing to agree to what is necessary to begin to take steps to truly address the significant challenges facing Woonsocket,” Gallogly said.

The 13.8 percent tax hike was projected to raise $6.6 million, an amount Woonsocket leaders said they need to pay the city’s bills.

In addition to lowering the tax increase, the Woonsocket delegation’s proposed compromise would have had the state push back the date the city would have to start building a new sewer treatment plant.

Woonsocket’s finances are already under the oversight of a state budget commission appointed last month and the next step open to governor would be to appoint a receiver.

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