Committee Cuts Raises, Restores School Fund before Final Budget Vote

The Finance Committee didn't change the budget's bottom line, but they shifted money around to replenish a special education contingency fund and reduce administrative raises during its last budget hearing last night.

The city's nonunion administrative staff will have smaller raises and a school special education fund the mayor slashed from about $650,000 to $150,000 for fiscal 2013 was replenished to about $350,000 during a lengthy but relatively undramatic Finance Committee budget hearing last night.

The city's $246.7 million budget was otherwise left intact and its bottom line to where it heads next: the City Council for a final vote next Wednesday.

The budget calls for no tax increases, but due to the recent statistical revaluation, many property owners will see their taxes go up as long as their home values haven't fallen by more than 13 percent. If you're "lucky" to have a drop in assessed value of more than 13 percent, your taxes will be decreasing.

Although they ended up shaving just $10,000 out of the line item, committee members engaged in a lengthy debate about whether it was appropriate to give nonunion administrative staff members raises. Fung had called for three percent raises for those employees since they've gone without raises for four or more years. Ultimately, they reduced the three percent figure to 2 and 1.5 percent — the cutoff being a $60,000 salary. Make more, get a lower raise. Make less, two percent it is.

The biggest change was in the contingency fund for special education, which was boosted from $150,000 to about $350,000 after numerous reductions in various line items and adjustments to expected income from delinquent taxes and other revenue sources.

For anyone who has watched city affairs over the years, it was noteworthy that the Finance Committee, which is comprised of City Council members, combed through the budget to generate enough money to replenish the special education fund. The city and school district have had a cautious if not contentions relationship for years, battling over money in court and giving budget meetings an acrimonious flavor.

Instead, last night, the council made it clear that it was willing to take the advice given to them by the superintendent and School Committee members, who warned of potential school deficits next year if there are unexpected special education enrollments mid-year.

And several speakers commended the School Committee and the council for working collaboratively with each other and the mayor, including School Committee Vice Chairman Frank Lombardi, who said the city "has turned a corner."

We will post a full list of the amendments and their corresponding values later today along with excerpts from the public and committee comments throughout the meeting. Stay tuned.

mcam May 04, 2012 at 09:46 AM
No one should get raises during these difficult times. It's been ten years since I have seen a raise and I have had to live within my means and go without plenty. When a city or school dept. is broke no one should be getting increases until there is a surplus to use. Period!!!!!
Bob May 04, 2012 at 12:41 PM
Read my lips......NO RAISES...PERIOD....CASE CLOSED.....you clowns need to get a freakin clue......You work for a city...you enjoy the benefits when times are good....when times are bad....you also suffer the downfall..TOO BAD....don't like it...quit....no raise in 4 years...who cares...welcome to the REAL world...all this while my house value continues to drop and my property tax continues to rise......incompetent fools is what we have running the city....GET A FREAKIN CLUE.........
John E. Lanni, Jr. May 04, 2012 at 02:14 PM
I agee. There should be no pay raises given to any administrative staff members. In the real world, taxpayers have seen their homes decrease in value, have had their pays frozen or lost their jobs, and are paying more for health care. The wrong message is being sent when you use tax dollars to give administrators a pay increase.
Tom M. May 04, 2012 at 02:26 PM
Why no raises for non-union administrative staff and not no raises for ANY municipal employee? Just because they're union doesn't mean they deserve raises. With their benefits, just the opposite. The unions have started making concessions, but it's still not enough. It's one thing to have a "protected" job, it's another to be totally out of touch with reality (aka - employees in the private sector). Sick time, vacation, personal days, health care plan, COLA's, raises, retirement ages, pension details, etc must all be looked at.
Sox May 04, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Tom, the municipal employees aren't getting any raises that's why. The unions already negotiated those concessions and more. So while most if not all city employees saw salary freezes or cuts, the Mayor saw it fit to push for raises for his top staffers.
mcam May 04, 2012 at 07:13 PM
I believe all the unions gave concessions to make the financial situation in Cranston better.There's something very wrong when administrators take from the workers who have made the concessions to fill their pockets. They look like a bunch of pigs!!!


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