WARWICK, RI — Budget hearings for Warwick’s FY22 budget begin Monday, 4:55 p.m., where the City Council and Mayor Frank Picozzi’s administration will review and possibly amend the mayor’s proposed $331 million plan, spared a tax increase by $5.5 million in revenue replacement from President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Act.
“As a hospitality and transportation center, we have been hard hit in lost revenues associated with the airport and hotels. It is clear that we will be eligible to use American Rescue funding to replace these lost funds based upon a benchmark of what we received in FY 2019,” Picozzi says in his budget summary.
“We conservatively estimate those losses at $3.3 million this year and $2.2 million next year. More modest qualifying losses include rescue service fees of around $500,000 this year and $300,000 next year as well as $500,000 in investment earnings on short term investments each year as the Federal Reserve has moved short term interest rates to near 0% (from 2% before the pandemic). While direct hospitality revenue is forecast to improve in the new year, we have lost taxable vehicle count (the Hertz fleet is down over 500 cars) and tangible taxes from business that have closed. We will be eligible for $1.4 million from these losses in the new fiscal year. In summary, this budget projects $4.9 million in qualifying revenue losses this year and $4.6 million in FY 2022,” the summary adds.
This budget includes$800,000 for a broadband initiative co-sponsored by the Police Department and Information Technology Department, with the schools. According to the 2022 capital budget, the funds will be used half on upgrading the Warwick Police internet network with the balance used to upgrade the city’s broadband fiber network.
“It is something that has to be done and now we have the resources to do it.”
Sewer, Water investments
“I am also pledging $10 million this year from our entitlement to the Sewer ($7 million) and Water Departments ($3 million) for expansion and upgrades. Our infrastructure is old and has been neglected for far too long and this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to dramatically improve it. It is possible that some of the funding could also be used to subsidize the long delayed Bayside Sewer project and moderate assessments required to fund the project,” Picozzi wrote.
The Mayor’s proposed budget will also
- Recall of many city employees laid off in May of 2020, for about $1 million. “Services in the Public Works department as well as City Clerk have been adversely affected. The loss of these workers greatly diminished this city’s ability to provide the quality of services that they expect and frankly, deserve.”
- Add more than 20 additional firefighters. “While this will not significantly change overall costs, it will greatly reduce overtime in the Fire Department.”
- Allocates $6.4 million for lease/purchases. “This will be a continuing program to replace our aging and decrepit fleet of fire apparatus, police vehicles, garbage trucks and other vehicles.”
- Pays $240K in lease costs for centralizing municipal services in Apponaug in the Sawtooth Building in association with AAA. “This is a long overdue response to replacing the Annex which is not practically recoverable from water and structural damage of over two years ago. Having city offices scattered throughout the city in makeshift offices is terribly inefficient and inconvenient to both employees and residents. Having a professional, state of the art city facility is long overdue.”
- Adds $2.3M to the Warwick Schools budget for a total of $173.917,681. “It is unfortunate that enrollment has declined by in excess of 400 students since the pandemic, but this budget commits the same dollar amount despite fewer students to educate. Warwick Schools are also expected to receive a $1.4 million increase in state aid. It appears that an additional $9.3 million in essentially unrestricted resources will be available to Warwick Schools in American Rescue Federal aid. It is not so certain that additional Federal resources will be available in future years for our schools and part of what the City has reserved from American Rescue funds may have to be pledged to assist our schools in future years.”
Full versions of the general and capital budgets, and the budget hearings’ agenda, are linked below:
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