May 24, 2012

Rep Baldelli-Hunt Has Not Saved Woonsocket From a Sharp Property Tax Increase

Monique Chartier

An alert Andrew noticed this.

[Woonsocket] Taxpayers won't be getting that supplemental tax bill after all.

At the urging of state Rep. Lisa Baldelli-Hunt on Thursday afternoon, the bill was recommitted to committee, essentially killing it.

Her reasoning?

An emotional Baldelli-Hunt, a Democrat who represents Woonsocket, told House members that Mayor Leo Fontaine had not given the House Committee on Finance all the facts about Woonsocket's financial future when he testified earlier this week. She had offered weak support for the bill at that hearing but says she changed her mind after meeting with members of the governor's staff.

"Imposing this tax would be disastrous for our struggling city, disastrous for our struggling citizens and a clear indication that this chamber has lost its way," she said.

Justin, who just finished live-blogging from the State House, reported on this particular vote starting at 5:29 pm.

Let me be clear that I don't support property tax increases, either generally or in this circumstance. That's not the issue. The problem is that Rep Lisa Baldelli-Hunt (D-Woonsocket) is under the impression that she has accomplished something by addressing only the revenue side of Woonsocket's financial convulsions. But what about the expense side? To cite just one item in that column, there's the $4.7 million in step increases built into the city's 2010-2013 teacher contract which Justin highlighted on Ocean State Current.

Again, the point here is not to criticize teachers. It is my understanding that teacher pay in Woonsocket ranks at the bottom 20% statewide.

The question is, as Rep Baldelli-Hunt has not suggested abating this or any other budgetary expense nor is she permitting the city to augment a revenue stream, how does she propose that the city honor this contract and meet all of its other obligations?

The response might be that it is not her job to do that. No, it's not. Now, with the vote by the House denying the supplemental tax and the almost simultaneous downgrade by Moodys, neither will it be the rightful job of the Council and Mayor. Almost certain, a Budget Commission - the second step towards a Receivership - will now take control of the city's finances.

Neither of those authorities will be shy about asking for a supplemental tax. And a Receiver won't even need to go to the General Assembly for authority.

Was that perhaps the point all along? In his live-blogging coverage just now, Justin reported the following eye-opening item, with "she" being Rep Baldelli-Hunt and the bill being the Woonsocket supplemental tax.

With tears in her voice and talk about her “political demise,” she made a motion to recommit.

Probably as early as tomorrow morning, it will be clear that Rep Baldelli-Hunt did not forfend a property tax increase for the people of Woonsocket, she only shifted the responsibility for it to another party. It appears that another unintended consequence of the state's new receivership law has been to convey to our elected officials the power to pass the buck.


In Friday's Woonsocket Call, Jim Baron supplies amplified coverage.

“Imposing a 13 percent tax at this time,” Baldelli-Hunt said, “would be disastrous for our struggling community, our struggling constituents and a clear indication that this chamber has lost its way.”

Starting to tear up, she continued: “If my actions today result in my eventual political demise, at least I know that, in the end, I had the best interests of my city, and my constituents at heart.”

Interviewed after the session, Baldelli-Hunt said, “We said we were going to vote for it (in the finance committee), but we wanted a hard copy plan in place and we wanted a resolution in support of House Bill 8040 answering the questions we have asked all along: how did this happen and who is responsible? To this day we still do not have the resolution in support of that and our constituents deserve the answers to those two questions.”

Asked if she is happy with the outcome, Baldelli-Hunt responded, “Who could be happy at this time about anything that is happening in our city. It is not a matter of winning or losing.”


Over at Ocean State Current, Justin has posted the video he took of the floor action on this bill.

Comments, although monitored, are not necessarily representative of the views Anchor Rising's contributors or approved by them. We reserve the right to delete or modify comments for any reason.

"...we wanted a resolution in support of House Bill 8040 answering the questions we have asked all along: how did this happen and who is responsible?"

You have got to be f'n kidding me!!
You really don't know? We all know!! Quit the charade you morons!

Posted by: Mike Cappelli at May 25, 2012 9:50 AM

Once again, Bald-Hunt and her cronies puts their political ambitions before the constituents. Under a receiver, taxes will go up but the people of Woonsocket won't have a voice. Why? The Standard-Times provides an answer. A writer claims this haridan has Mayoral ambitions, and letting the current Mayor succeed wouldn't be helpful. So screw the people for my personal gain...

Posted by: Mike678 at May 25, 2012 10:15 AM

The choice is simple-just raise taxes like the progressives want or only do it after a dictator is appointed who can, ultimately, take the city into chapter 9 and make the cuts elected leadership is unable/unwilling to make.
Bring on the dictator!

Posted by: Tommy Cranston at May 25, 2012 11:42 AM

My property in Woony has dropped by about 30% in the last 4 years. But, my taxes have stayed the same. Im looking to leave now. Its like they dont understand that we can literally walk or take a short twenty minute drive to a lower tax bracket with better schools.

Posted by: PeteC9999 at May 25, 2012 12:03 PM


Pull your head out of your arse.

What Baldelli-Hunt and the other Reps want is simple ...a Receiver who will deliver not only a Supplemental Tax bill, but also the restructuring that is needed, which the Mayor and John Ward of The State are unwilling to do.

Read her April 22 letter. Then, when you are better informed, your opinion might count.

Posted by: Leo at May 25, 2012 9:41 PM

What a buch of B.S. ! I watched this same Baldelli Hunt during the finance committee hearings voicing her support of this bill with no crocodile tears or blubbering, only a complaint that the City Council didnt pass a resolution to support her bill to have members of the House investigate City Finances. Than she does an about face? First of all why in the world would anyone want the general assembly to to investigate anything to do with finances? They did such a great job with 38 Studios right ?? I also love when her colleague Jon Brien leaned over and gives her a hug and a kiss..I think I heard him say.."Oh thank you Lisa for saving me from having to vote on this" Despicable!

Posted by: Patriot at May 26, 2012 9:00 AM

In my opinion they never should have given the administration the professional courtesy of sponsoring that bill in the first place. I'm glad she had the bill recommitted. I commend her. It's not a revenue problem, remember! A receiver will make the cuts necessary once and for all.

Posted by: DILL at May 26, 2012 12:07 PM

The tax levy increase in Central Falls is going to be at least 30%, maybe closer to 35% or more over the course receivership plan. Having tax-increases imposed by someone with the title of "receiver" doesn't make them cost any less.

And the idea that calling for a study and basically begging for someone else to make the important substantive decisions shows political courage is laughable.

Posted by: Andrew at May 26, 2012 7:41 PM

Andrew - you need to give the full picture of the Receiver. Yes, he did (and perhaps will) impose significant tax increases in CF.

But, he also imposed cost / spending cuts. Granted, the 42 year old retired firefighter may not like it, but does anyone really have any sympathy for those leeches? The classic line was "gee, had I known they were going to cut my pension, I would have kept working. After all, I just 42, I still young and could have kept working ...had I known they were going to do this".

And perhaps if the Elected officials did what they should have done, they would not have had to have an "outsider" come in and IMPOSE the fix.

Posted by: Leo at May 26, 2012 8:59 PM

In Woonsocket they are willing already to do the same things a budget commission would, and there's a possibility that they won't need to nail the property tax cap year after year, like the receiver in Central Falls is planning to, after this supplemental.

In East Providence, on the other hand, elected officials began making cuts, but then got voted out; now a budget commission is going to max-out the property tax cap this year and eliminate the homestead exemption going forward (let's hear it for non-accountable taxation decisions!). But you seem to be OK with big tax increases, as long as they're imposed in all caps by an outsider, although you could make the case that EP is indirectly getting the policy they voted for.

Posted by: Andrew at May 27, 2012 2:43 PM


Unfortunately, you are a bit late to the party in Woonsocket, and as such, you are a bit uninformed.

They don't have a chance of avoiding max tax increases. In fact, they will seek to exceed the cap even if they get their supplemental.

They have done many of the things a budget commission would do and they are still reeling.

Of course, you are free to buy the rhetoric from the Mayor and Council President ...the same excretement that they peddled when the did the deficit reduction bond. How'd that work out?

Poor yourself another glass of kool-aid, it's warm out.

Posted by: Leo at May 27, 2012 3:10 PM

Actually, the information problem in assessing Rhode Island taxes has mostly to do with how figures are commonly presented. I'll be addressing that in a post at the beginning of next week.

On the other hand, your attitude of big tax increases good when imposed by someone unaccountable /big tax increases bad when not is more of an ideology and an alienation issue than an information problem.

Posted by: Andrew at May 27, 2012 4:23 PM


I look forward to your tax analysis.

I am not sure where you get the idea that I am for big tax increases under any circumstance.

I am for affordable tax increases. And that requires long over-due restructuring that only a receiver can provide. And as you well know, the majority of the restructuring is going to have to deal with unsustainable union-demanded pay & benefits that are bankrupting the State (via its cities and towns).

You've commented several times about the big (max)tax increases in CF that were imposed by someone with the title of "receiver".

Perhaps you could provide some insight into what those tax increases would have been without the big, bad Receiver.

Perhaps you could provide some insight and commentary into what actions were taken or would have been taken without a Receiver, not forgetting of course that it was the CF mayor and city council (you know, those "accountable" guys) that put the city into bankruptcy after they tried and failed to negotiate with the entitlement-minded unions and retirees.

In other words, Andrew, how about you give the whole picture, instead of just the max tax picture?

Posted by: Leo at May 27, 2012 6:21 PM

Leo...your earlier comment lets us know all we need to know about your character and your intelligence...both are marginal at best.

Posted by: Mike678 at May 27, 2012 8:12 PM


If my earlier comments offended or wounded you, I apologize. I didn't know that 678s are so tender and sensative. My mistake and I won't let it happen again. And forgive my lack of intelligence. I don't read the Standard-Times in order to inform my opinions, so I can not be expected to be as sharp and smart as you.

Posted by: Leo at May 27, 2012 10:25 PM
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