May 7, 2008

Cranston School Committee Approves a Caruolo Action

Monique Chartier

From today's Providence Journal:

The School Committee voted late Tuesday night to sue the city for $4.9 million in additional education aid, setting the stage for a costly, bruising legal battle.

The committee became the second in the state this year, after the West Warwick board, to authorize a lawsuit seeking more cash from a local municipality in what is known as a Caruolo action.

* * *

Talk of a Caruolo action has been swirling since the beginning of the fiscal year, when school officials said they could not run the schools with the $125.3 million they got from federal, state and local sources.

The school district has maintained, for months, that it would need something on the order of $4 million more from the city to meet its obligations.

But city officials have long speculated that the school district would be willing to settle for something closer to $2 million in the end.

That speculation, it now seems, was faulty.

Is it too obvious to point out that this could have been avoided if the School Committee had structured budgets and executed contracts that were within the means of the city?

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If the GA really wants to give "education aid" to local communities they would repeal the pathetic Caroulo Act.

Posted by: Mike at May 7, 2008 3:44 PM

I'm sure that [soon to be former] Mayor Mike Napolitano is thrilled at how his "more cooperative" approach with the Cranston School Committee has paid off for the taxpaying citizens of Cranston (insert sarcasm here).

On a lighter note, George Caruolo lives down the street from me. I wonder if he realized back then just how well his presumably well-intentioned legislation would end up soaking local taxpayers, year after year?

Posted by: Will at May 7, 2008 5:55 PM

Oh he knew. They all knew. These dopes may not look bright but they have very bright puppetmasters pulling the string.

Posted by: Mike at May 7, 2008 7:35 PM

The same thing is going on in West Warwick. These things happen because school committees don't have responsibility for their own budget. There is no reason why we should expect school committees, as they are currently structured, to live within the means of the taxpayers because they will never be held accountable for tax increases. Either they should be given the power to raise their own funds or they should be dissolved, with their powers going to the city/town council. I honestly don't know why West Warwick or Cranston hasn't moved to dissolve their respective school committees already.

Posted by: Mario at May 7, 2008 10:52 PM

Caruolo was John Harwood's right-hand man. 'Nuff said.

Posted by: rhody at May 8, 2008 12:42 AM

All school commitee's should be stripped of having anything to do with financial matters.

NOW-from today's New York Times, a look at the real RI Future.

City Council in Bay Area Declares Bankruptcy

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Published: May 8, 2008

VALLEJO, Calif. — In a potentially ominous harbinger for some cities in California and elsewhere, the Vallejo City Council voted to declare bankruptcy Tuesday night in the face of dwindling tax revenues, the housing market meltdown and a faltering economy.

The unanimous vote was cast after late efforts to squeeze concessions out of city employees failed and with the city facing a $16 million shortfall for the fiscal year beginning in July.

“We finally realized there are no other options,” Councilwoman Joanne Schivley, a retired banker, said. “We were going to run out of cash come the end of June. It’s not a decision that any of us took pleasure in, but there are a lot of other cities that are probably be in the same boat shortly.”

What worries some experts is that some of the problems here are all too common, a steep decrease in property and sales taxes and transfer fees as a result of weakness in the housing market.

“At one point, bankruptcy seemed beyond the pale, but it’s something that one hears about a lot more now,” said John Quigley, a professor of economics at University of California, Berkeley. “And in California, you hear about a lot of cities being pushed to this sort of thinking by the housing crisis.”

A bayside community of 117,000 25 miles northeast of San Francisco, Vallejo is the largest city in California to declare bankruptcy, though Orange County did so in 1994 after a spate of bad investments.

“With Orange County,” Professor Quigley said, “there were identifiable bad guys. This is different. Near as one can tell, this is more of a low-level infection everywhere.”

Municipal bankruptcies are not unheard of, but are often accompanied by scandal or legal losses. County commissioners in Jefferson County, Ala., are considering bankruptcy amid a federal lawsuit over payments to the mayor of Birmingham, the county seat, and a missed bond payment.

Smaller cities like Half Moon Bay, Calif., and McCall, Idaho, have also flirted with bankruptcy. In Vallejo, Council members and residents fault decisions by past Councils, including agreeing to binding arbitration for contracts with city employees, whose salaries account for nearly 80 percent of the general fund.

Like many Bay Area cities, Vallejo has struggled to keep up with demand for services as its population has grown over 20 years. “We as a state are growing by 500,000 people a year, and that is continuing to put pressure on the cities,” said Dan Carigg, the legislative director for the League of California Cities, an association for the 478 cities in the state. “And when you run short, you tend to have two choices. Cut programs or try to raise revenues.

“And when it comes to cities trying to raise new revenues, their options are very limited.”

Because of propositions approved by voters, California strictly limits increases in property taxes. And in Vallejo, public workers say the cutting has already gone too far.

“We’ve been doing more with less forever,” said Detective Mat Mustard, vice president of the Vallejo Police Officers Association, which opposed the bankruptcy declaration. “We’re going to start losing people. Who wants to work for a company or a city that’s bankrupt?”

Council members disputed that public safety or the attractiveness to businesses would be reduced.

“This morning, going around town, it’s weird, because everyone’s saying congratulations,” Councilwoman Stephanie Gomes said. “Its kind of odd to say, but the mood among people is that we’re finally going to solve the problems.”

Along the main drag, Georgia Avenue, the sentiment seemed to be more bittersweet.

“I’m sad to see it go this way,” Debbie Rojas, owner of the Georgia Street Grill, said. “But I’m kind of excited for bankruptcy.”

Posted by: Mike at May 8, 2008 9:39 AM

SOUND FAMILAR? More on todays Chapter 9 bankruptcy in Vallejo California

1. The city is totally run by Democrats and has been for years.
2. The population is majority Third World with increasing illegal alien infestation.
3. The last mayoral election pitted a far-left black man against a far-left open penis worshipping man (who got busted for public drunkeness a couple of days after the election)
4. "the Vallejo police and fire department payroll consumes 80 percent of the city budget...The city council is negotiating with the police and firefighters unions" In other words-TALK TO THE UNIONS.
5. "98 firefighters made more than $100,000 and 10 made more than $200,000 including overtime"
6. "Two contributing factors have also been cited: the aforementioned high salaries, and current and future pension outlays, payments of which are likely not sustainable",_California

Anybody out there gonna argue that this is NOT the real "RI Future" -at least for Providence and Kent counties (other than EG, Scituate, Foster and a couple more rural towns) ?

Posted by: Mike at May 8, 2008 2:35 PM