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SK Council calls on General Assembly to address pension reform

July 1, 2011

SOUTH KINGSTOWN – With the school committee deciding on how to reconfigure the school district and the state facing unfunded pension liabilities, the council agreed to contact local representatives and the school department to voice their concerns.

The two issues came from two resolutions Councilman Jim O’Neill proposed and after long discussion on what they should include, the council approved sending a resolution to local legislators so other municipalities could use it and a letter to the school committee. In both, the council requested meetings to take place in either July or August to address concerns of the town.

“Rhode Island’s economy will face devastation unless our General Assembly members act with courage to face this crisis,” O’Neill stated in the resolution to the legislators. “Delaying pension reform until October 2011 will bring chaos to all municipal/school budget formation for 2012 to 2013.”

In his resolution, O’Neill cites that the town faces an increase of $4 million pension cost obligation without reform and that there will be unfunded pension liabilities of $9.4 billion for the state.

“Can you get a little concrete? You’re jumping all over the place. I’m trying to get a grasp. You’ve been all over the place,” Councilwoman Kathleen Fogarty said to O’Neill after he cited numbers indicating budget trends.

“That’s what the retirement board has recommended, but the General Assembly determines what will happen,” O’Neill said in response. “We won’t know until October. That’s why we need to be on our General Assembly members.”

Although there was some confusion over correct budget numbers regarding unfunded pension liabilities and post health care liabilities, Town Manager Stephen A. Alfred said he would make sure they are correct. The council voted to send a resolution to local legislators requesting a meeting where they could express their concerns.

For more information pick up a copy of The Narragansett Times.

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