Editor’s note: The Council Update is a twice-monthly update on Council meetings and developments from Warwick City Council President Steve McAllister. The column is written after each council meeting, twice a month. This review of Warwick City Council events has been lightly edited to update time references, for grammar, and to include referential links for further reading.
Last night the City Council voted 9-0 in favor of a same-year school build reimbursement request, PCR-48-23 “A Resolution memorializing the General Assembly to enact legislation amending State Law to provide eligibility for reimbursement for interest payments on approved school construction projects prior to project completion.”
What this legislation basically does is ask the General Assembly to change the way city and towns get reimbursed when building schools by changing to a same-year school build reimbursement system.
The current system requires the city to make large interest payments each year until the project is completed. That would mean that the city would have to repay the bond and interest for five years before the state sends a balloon payment reimbursing us. We are asking for a “pay as you go” process. For example, if the first year of building the schools the bond and interest payments is $1 million (this is just an example these payments will be much larger than a million dollars) the city will have to find an additional $1 million to add to our annual budget and we won’t see those funds reimbursed until years down the line once the schools are built.
We are asking the state to reimburse the city the same year we make a payment. These annual payments could cost as much as $13 million a year, so changing to a “pay as you go” same-year school build reimbursement process would be a game changer for all cities and towns looking to build new schools.
Our resolution will be sent to the General Assembly this week once the Mayor signs it today. I will keep you updated on this legislation, as well as our resolution to extend the RIDE deadlines on when these projects need to start and be completed, and our RFQ to review the costs of building these schools. Much more to come on this topic!
National Lung Cancer Awareness Week
Also last night, we had the American Lung Association give an overview on lung cancer and the work the Association is doing. This week is national lung cancer awareness week.
We also approved a number of Ward Neighborhood APRA projects which are paid for with federal APRA funds. As a reminder, each ward has $200,000 in APRA funds which can be used for neighborhood improvements. On the City Council’s website residents can submit ideas and requests for neighborhood projects. Last night we approved funds for a new playground at Pontiac Village Park, a new basketball court at Hoxsie School, new ADA crosswalks on Sandy Lane and Strawberry Field Road, and 8 solar speed displays which will be installed on Diamond Hill Road, Love Lane, Cowesett Road and Warwick Neck Avenue.
You can make requests for neighborhood projects here: https://www.warwickri.gov/city-council-legislative-department/webforms/arpa-fund-project-suggestion-form
Warwick City Budget Hearings Coming Up
Next up is the City’s budget. The first budget hearing will be at 4pm on Monday, May 22. We will also have budget hearings on Tuesday, May 23rd and a vote on the budget Thursday, May 25th. For the first time, the council will also have public comment on Thursday before the council votes on the budget. Members of the public are able to speak on each and every part of the budget as it is discussed. We go over each department’s budget during the budget hearings on Monday and Tuesday. Members of the public are given an opportunity to ask questions on every department before we move to the next department. We also wanted to provide an additional opportunity for the public to be heard on the total budget, therefore on Thursday, May 25 the public will get an additional opportunity to give their thoughts on the budget as a whole or any other Warwick issue. I will send around the Mayor’s budget proposal once it is received.
Upcoming meetings and events
Budget, budget, budget. May 22, May 23 and May 25 starting each day at 4 p.m. in council chambers.
Saturday, May 13 Breakfast Boot Camp. A free breakfast and hiring and networking event for veterans and seniors. Please see flyer below.
Have a great week!
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