WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — With the city of Warwick hoping to build two new high schools, officials are looking for ways to make sure those plans become a reality.
The Warwick City Council voted in favor of a resolution Monday to ask the Rhode Island General Assembly to amend a state law so the city could be reimbursed for interest payments on an approved school construction project before the project is finished.
“Right now, the way that the reimbursement rates from the state come, the city would pay interest in each budget for about three to four years,” Warwick City Council President Stephen McAllister explained. “So we would have to come up with millions of dollars each year to start paying off the bonds, and then after four or five years, the state comes in with a balloon of reimbursement.”
Mayor Frank Picozzi said this would cost an extra $13 million in the city’s budget, noting this amendment would benefit taxpayers as well as other communities statewide.
Voters in November approved a $350 million bond to pay for two new high schools to replace Toll Gate and Pilgrim.
“When they started this, interest rates were much lower, construction costs were much lower, so we’re doing this and a number of other things to get the schools so it hurts the taxpayers the least,” Picozzi said.
The city is also asking the R.I. Department of Education to delay the start and end of the project by six months while an independent study is conducted to make sure they can deliver on this project.
The resolution will now be sent to the General Assembly so state lawmakers can vote on whether to amend the law.