WARWICK, RI — Councillors added $1.5 million to the School Department Budget, and $4 million to the paving budget in the early minutes of the Warwick City Council’s Saturday vote on the FY18 budget at City Hall Saturday.
“This is much-needed,” said Councilman Jeremy Rix about adding to the paving budget, which brought the total up to $5 million for repairing Warwick roads.
“This is the number one issue that I hear every day,” said Councilman Steve McAllister.
Councilman Timothy Howe noted the poor condition of roads is among the top complaints all councillors hear throughout the year.
The amendment to the budget passed unanimously.
Councillors were less enthusiastic about the Warwick School Department’s request for an additional $8 million to their budget, and a reported ad in local media threatening a lawsuit against the Council if they failed to deliver.
Council President Steve Merolla noted that the School Department budget is growing as buildings close and student population declines, and Warwick’s recent move to third largest city in the state from its #2 spot.
“Our population is declining. Our school population is declining. Our budget is increasing,” Merolla said.
Rix pointed out the requested 6.65 percent increase is larger than the Warwick School Committee is legally allowed to request, which is 4 percent.
Rix added, “These numbers simply do not add up and no school department in the state operates like this,” since they are legally prevented from doing so.
He also noted the closing of three school buildings would likely save about $4 million out of the School Department’s $166 million budget.
“It is a woeful estimate when the closing of three buildings is going to save multiple millions of dollars,” Rix said.
The amendment adding $1.5 million to the School Department budget passed unanimously, bringing the total School Department funding to $167,623,617.
Warwick Post will update this story as the voting on the City budget continues today.