WARWICK, RI — Warwick holds its inaugural virtual city council meeting via Zoom teleconferencing software at 4 p.m. May 26 and May 27, reviewing Mayor Joseph J. Solomon’s $323,508,909 budget, including a $2 million School Department increase and no tax increase.
“Mayor Solomon and his team have made tremendous progress in finding ways to make the City operate more efficiently and getting us on a better track financially. The Mayor’s proposal to have a zero percent tax increase, and all of the work involved to get there, is commendable,” said Warwick City Councilman Jeremy Rix.
The budget increases Warwick municipal spending by $1,686,653, or .52 percent over the FY20 budget. It also puts the proposed FY21 school budget at $171,538,668, or $6,327,732 less than the Warwick School Department’s requested $177,886,400.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has been devastating to our local economy, and many of the impacts have yet to unfold,” said Solomon. “Warwick’s tourism and hospitality industries comprise a large portion of our tax base, and those industries have been hit particularly hard by this pandemic. Thanks in large part to our prudent financial planning during the past two years, Warwick is better-positioned to weather this disaster. And, despite the tremendous challenges we now face, I am increasing the City’s contribution to our school budget while holding the line on City taxes.”
Rix said he is concerned about whether the City will reach its revenue targets given the pandemic-stricken economy and if there is a risk of new expenses.
Rix said he is, “Inquiring about collection rates in recent years and for the years around the time of the last recession to better ensure that we are preparing to avoid or minimize any unanticipated deficit,” ahead of the budget hearings.
“Likewise, I am concerned about the effects of the stock market downturn not just on the City’s obligations this coming year, but also, how we can put the City in a better position to fulfill its obligations in the long-term. A budget must find a balance to sufficiently fund all departments, with an eye on the City’s short- and long-term obligations, and be in interests of the taxpayers and residents of all ages in both the short- and long-term. I look forward to hearing the budget presentations and discussing these issues before voting on the budget,” Rix said.
While the Warwick School Committee has been meeting for several weeks using Zoom, the Council will be using the system live the first time May 26. But they have tested the waters.
“We did a test earlier this week, to make sure everyone could connect, and it seemed to work fine,” said Rix.
How to access the Zoom budget hearings:
You may access or participate in the meeting using the Zoom Application on a smart device or on a PC via the Web at zoom.us and clicking on JOIN A MEETING in the upper right part of the page.
The Webinar ID is: 896 3550 5826.
Anyone wanting to participate via telephone only, may call one of the following Toll Free numbers:
- 877 853 5247
- 888 788 0099
- 833 548 0276
- 833 548 0282
You will then need to punch in the Webinar ID, 896 3550 5826 on your touchtone keypad.
While everyone joining the meeting will be muted, if at the appropriate time during the proceedings you wish to ask a question, you may: If using a smart phone or a PC – click on the “Raise Hand” icon. The meeting moderator will then ask for the participant having raised their hand to be unmuted. After the question, answer, and any further discussion, the participant will be muted again and will need to click on the Raise Hand icon or punch in *9 to ask another question.
If phoning in – punch *9 on the touchtone keypad. The moderator will indicate when it is your turn to comment/ask a question.