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Chafee visits West Warwick

May 20, 2012

The West Warwick Senior Center was a packed house Thursday night when Gov. Lincoln Chafee moderated a question-and-answer forum on his municipal relief plan. Jessica Boisclair. Kent County Daily Times.

WEST WARWICK — All 100 seats were filled and people stood along the walls of the West Warwick Senior Center on Thursday night to question and brain storm ideas to help save the town from its current financial turmoil.

Governor Lincoln Chafee was the room's focus. He was there hosting a question-and-answer forum about his package of bills that he hopes will provide municipal relief to Rhode Island’s cities and towns.

Chafee explained that from 2008-2011 West Warwick lost $6.2 million in state aid.

“At the same time you had the same number of children to educate and the same payroll requirements,” he said. “Your main cost in the community is in your school budget and in public safety.”

He said that the seven bills under his municipal relief package was put together by listening to various mayors, town managers and public safety workers throughout the state.

“My proposal hopefully will help West Warwick enough so you don’t have an unelected receiver coming in, through bankruptcy, they don’t have to adhere to any bargaining agreement,” said Chafee addressing the public employees in attendance.

He went on to explain that one of the bills in his package will give the Town Manager the power to approve the school’s budget.

He said this bill is for highly distressed communities, which “West Warwick is,” shouted some residents.

“We know the communities that are in trouble, this gives us more power to get in there before it turns into an inferno,” he said.

Resident and retired firefighter, Jerry Tellier, suggested to the Governor that if a town, like West Warwick, does not contribute to their Annual Required Contribution (ARC) payment, that the state should penalize the cities and towns for not putting in their share.

He said that all the employees that work for the town pay their share every paycheck and they are getting penalized for it instead.

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