Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Woonsocket North Smithfield 06-04-2020

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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NORTH SMITHFIELD BLACKSTONE WOONSOCKET EDITION | VALLEY BREEZE | JUNE 4-10, 2020 WOONSOCKET 5 WOONSOCKET – The City Council on Monday cut salary increases and sharply reduced tem- porary labor accounts in the 2020- 2021 budget, citing the uncertainty of state and federal funding amid the economic fallout of COVID-19. For the second year in a row, Councilor James Cournoyer pro- posed a sweeping amendment to Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt's pro- posed city budget that cut funds from nearly every city department while replacing them in the city's contingency account. In addition to level-funding salaries and eliminating temporary services, the amendment removed three currently vacant posi- tions in the Planning, Finance and Public Works Departments. Cournoyer said the changes were not intended to reflect on city employees but "to tighten things up a little bit and put some money aside until we get a better idea of where things are going." By removing the funds to a contingency account, he said, councilors could award funding to departments later in the year. "There's a lot of uncertainty right now with the state budget, with the economy and so forth. If we end up, god forbid, in a situation where we have a bud- get commission, I don't want people wagging their fingers at the council and saying, 'They weren't conserva- tive enough,'" he said. The final budget of $152.2 mil- lion is the same total proposed by Baldelli-Hunt, but with an additional $616,012 in the contingency account. Cournoyer also proposed changing the tax rates to $24 per thousand dol- lars of value for residential property and $35.24 for commercial property, offering a slightly larger drop to com- mercial taxpayers. Under the mayor's original budget, both tax rates dropped by 1 percent. The changes drew opposition from Councilors David Soucy and Alex Kithes, both of whom said the amendment, presented to councilors just a few minutes before the meet- ing, was a lot to digest. Kithes said he preferred a greater tax reduc- tion on the residential side, while Soucy raised concerns about remov- ing funds from the Department of Planning and Development. "To take away money from some- thing that can actually help grow our community, help grow the tax base, grow the commercial tax base – we have a modest effort now, and I think this just cuts that effort more," said Soucy. The remaining four councilors supported the changes, creating a veto-proof majority in favor of Cournoyer's budget. City charter requires the support of five council- ors to override a veto by the mayor. After voting against Cournoyer's changes, Kithes proposed changes of his own, suggesting they take funds from the city's blight and road paving accounts and add them instead to the library's book budget and a displaced resident assistance account. He also proposed adding $100,000 to the city's contribution to the Woonsocket Education Department, a portion of the $250,000 that was discussed at the close of last year's teacher con- tract debate. While the book and displaced resident changes gained support, with only Cournoyer and Councilor Denise Sierra voting against, the edu- cation funding drew a more cautious response. The remaining councilors acknowledged the $250,000 had been a part of previous discussions but said they would hold the depart- ment's funding steady and revisit the issue after state and federal aid changes pan out. "Although I see the value in fund- ing the school department, I don't want to make a move that we can't reverse," said Council President Daniel Gendron. State education funding remains a largely unknown factor in the city's budget. Though the current budget is based upon an increase of more than $5 million from last year's state funding, that number was calculated before state officials began projecting an $800 million budget deficit due to COVID-19. Councilor John Ward raised con- cerns the state could level-fund Woonsocket and other urban com- munities, a change he said might drop the city back into the days of a state-appointed budget commission. Councilors cut salary increases in FY2021 budget By LAUREN CLEM Valley Breeze Staff Writer WOONSOCKET – A resolution to celebrate Woonsocket Pride Month in June passed the City Council by a 7-0 vote Monday evening. The resolution, proposed by Councilor Alex Kithes, in intended to commemorate "the struggles and perseverance of the LGBTQIA+ community" and offer "a celebra- tion of life and resiliency within the LGBTQIA+ community." The designation will include a Pride flag raising later this month in Market Square. Kithes told councilors on Monday the measure has received a huge amount of public support since he announced it last month. As of a half hour before the start of the meeting, he said, an online petition in favor of the resolution had amassed more than 400 signatures. "The number has grown since then," he added a few hours later. Councilors David Soucy, John Ward and Denise Sierra signed on as co-sponsors of the resolution. Despite the unanimous vote, the measure drew reservations from some councilors who expressed doubts about the public statement. Councilor James Cournoyer said he disliked the idea of trying to create "separate communities within the community" and resented language in the resolution implying the city had not yet moved past bias and homophobia. "I've got to be honest with you, I don't need to raise a flag to demon- strate that," he said. "I think we have a number of people who are in this so-called community who are elected officials and in fact have been the highest vote-getters." Councilor Jon Brien criticized Kithes for spending time promoting the measure on social media, saying more time could have been spent educating the public on the meaning behind the Pride flag. "I can get behind the six colors of the flag and I can get behind the request. I just don't think enough people know what this flag means and what it stands for truly," he said. Mayor Lisa Baldelli-Hunt suggested they consider holding the flag raising at the mini-park next to City Hall to keep it consistent with previous Pride Month celebration passes city council vote By LAUREN CLEM Valley Breeze Staff Writer COURNOYER See PRIDE, Page 8 June 15, 2020 | 7 p.m. | Online/remote meeting via the following website and Zoom: www/ Click on the link for City Council YouTube Channel Zoom Meeting ID: 810 2483 1620 (Password: 506430) +1 929 436 2866 US (New York) Notice is hereby given pursuant to R.I.G.L. 45-22.2 and 45-24 that a Public Hearing will be held by the City Council to consider and vote on a motion to approve the following matters: 1. An amendment to the City's Comprehensive Plan. The City Council will consider an ordinance to amend the 2012 Comprehensive Plan of the City of Woonsocket, RI by changing the future land use map designation of lot 36-76 from Mixed-Use Industrial/Commercial to High-Density Residential. Maps of the existing and proposed future land use map may be found in an advertisement published in the Valley Breeze on May 28, 2020. 2. An amendment of the City's Zoning Ordinance. The City Council will consider an ordinance to amend the Zoning Ordinance of the City of Woonsocket, RI by changing the zoning map designation of lot 36-76 from MU-2 to R-4. Maps of the existing and proposed zoning map may be found in an advertisement published in the Valley Breeze on May 28, 2020. All persons interested in the above are encouraged to join the remote hearing and express their views. The proposed amendment may be reviewed on the Planning Board's webpage on the City's website ( Questions concerning this hearing or amendment may be directed to the City Planner at 767-1418 or After further study or due to the views expressed at the public hearing, the proposed amendment may be altered prior to the close of the hearing without further advertising. Any such alterations will be presented for comment in the course of the hearing. If you are hearing impaired and need interpreter services, please contact the Town Clerk's Office at 767-9247 not less than 72 hours in advance of the hearing date. Daniel Gendron President, Woonsocket City Council Notice of Public Hearing Woonsocket City Council Amendment to Comprehensive Plan and Zoning Ordinance Get Started on your Home Improvement Projects! Stop By or Call Ahead • Paints • Stains • Wallpaper • Carpet • Laminate & More PAINT DECORATING & 900 Victory Highway Slatersville Plaza, Slatersville, RI (401) 76PAINT • (401) 765-3128 Mon. - Fri. 7 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sat. 8 a.m.-3 p.m.

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