WEST WARWICK — The West Warwick Republican Party’s resolve to move the town forward out of its economic mess is strong and GOP members are not backing down.
Committee Chairman Ryan Franklin, committee member Joe Florio and Republican Rep. Patricia Morgan all agree that instead of using tax dollars to revitalize, more attention needs to be paid to how the money the town already has is being spent.
“The decay in this town continues but we still believe there’s good,” Franklin said, “and one of our goals always has been and still is to revitalize Arctic.”
The three compared its potential to East Greenwich and Wickford with a variety of stores and the waterfront right there with great restaurants.
Morgan used the success of Royal Mills and explained how the effort to revitalize that mill was started by the Republican Party 10 years ago. Decades ago, West Warwick was the place to come and enjoy the river and parks the town had to offer.
“That mill was unused for 25 years and was a mess with broken windows, you name it,” she said. “Property values were down all around it because of its condition but now look at it — what a gem.”
Morgan said Arctic needs the same type of attention, adding that now, because of out-of-control spending by those in power, they rely more on putting the burden on taxpayers to make the change.
One thing the committee is working on is getting the municipal economic development (MED) zone. If implemented, it would give the town the boost it needs to get small business into the area and attract patrons with low sales tax rates.
This legislation, passed in 2002, reads that if a financially distressed city or town creates a MED zone then all taxes collected within a MED zone shall go to the city or town where the zone is located and can be used for capital improvement.
“This plan makes it attractive to small business to come here and instead of patrons paying seven percent sales tax, they would pay three and a half — which would not only increase the tax base for town but make it attractive for merchants to come here, which in turn would revitalize the area,” Morgan said. “This is something we really need to look at.”
Morgan said currently only two million dollars of the town’s revenue comes from Arctic and that two million shouldn’t have to come from the taxpayers, but structural controls.
Franklin is interested in looking through the town’s budget information piece by piece and comparing it to other municipalities to see where some budget lines may be similar. He believes by going through this information, he can find what works versus what doesn’t.
“I want to review other ordinances and see if they fulfilled their purpose or not,” he said. “We want to know why West Warwick is suffering when we have all we need to succeed.”
Prior to the town’s all-day referendum vote, Florio recalled the unions stating that they would come to the table to finish negotiations if the budget passed.
“We passed the tax rate increase but there’s still no contract,” he said.
Franklin and Morgan said the taxpayers in West Warwick need a break and if things continue to be done the same way, then nothing will change.
“We’re going to be watchdogs,” promised the party chairman.