WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — The Warwick City Council is scheduled to meet Monday night to discuss the city budget and provide an opportunity for public input about the proposed budget cuts.
The city and school system have not reached an agreement on funding for next year.
The meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Warwick City Hall, where the City Council will consider a new proposal offering $1.3 million dollars more in funding, but only if the school department will use that money to save sports or other after school programs.
The money would come from the city budget and the entire City Council would have to agree to the resolution.
Tensions rose back in June when city leaders voted on budget cuts and eliminated school clubs, textbooks, and sports programs.
Attorney and former judge Bob Flanders spoke at a Warwick Financial Crisis Committee meeting in June. Flanders served as a receiver for Central Falls when the city went bankrupt in 2012.
Flanders spoke to Warwick residents last month about how the city can move forward.
“The job of the receiver and the bankruptcy court is to come up with a balanced budget that the city can afford,” Flanders explained last month.
“If that means slashing pensions by as much as 50% which was done in Central Falls, if it means restructuring all the agreements with active employees to eliminate these ‘Cadillac’ healthcare plans and put in place plants that are more commensurate with what happens in the private sector, then that will be upheld.”
There has been a verbal commitment from Mayor Joseph Solomon to give students sports programs back, however, it has not translated to policy yet.
Council President Steve Merolla says it seems like all sides want to keep sports, so this is one option to make that happen.
“My philosophy is, if we’re both in agreement that this should happen, and sports is starting in a few weeks and the interscholastic league has to put out schedules, that means kids have to have coaches..why are we still in limbo..enough with holding kids hostage, here’s the money for that program, say you’ll spend it for that, and let’s move on to the other issues where we have disagreements on,” says Merolla.
If the proposal passes, the City Council hopes to hear back from the school committee within a week. Either way, Merolla says both sides will remain in mediation.