West Warwick Residents Approve Critical Budget
Residents of West Warwick have passed a town budget that scales back services and raises taxes as part of an effort to avoid a financial crisis. The move is a early step for the town's path to fiscal stability.
The $86.3 million budget comes with plenty of concessions, including cuts in town programs, a 2.9 percent increase in property taxes, and reductions to public employee pensions. But town manager Frederick Presley said the concessions are necessary if West Warwick wants to avoid bankruptcy.
“We’ve been working to address our underfunded pension and other post unemployment benefit liabilities. We were required by the state to either get that under control or risk the state coming in," said Presley.
The budget is part of a five-year plan shore up town finances. Presley says the town will meet with a financial ratings agency next week. Officials had been warned that if the budget did not pass, the town would be downgraded to junk bond status.
Central Falls, Woonsocket, and East Providence have all had to deal with similar financial problems.
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