Chariho School Parents’ Forum

October 13, 2008

Where are the taxpayer groups?

Filed under: bond — Editor @ 11:41 am

Having gotten a few emails and calls asking – “what are we going to do about the bond?”  “We only won by 47 votes – now its cheaper, now only HS, etc, etc…….”  I thought I would post on it.

One frequent question is, “Where is… to fight this for us?”

First answer is to stop asking and do something yourself. Send a letter to the papers, and talk to your friends.

Secondly, there really never were any advocacy groups for taxpayers here in Hopkinton, or the overall Chariho area for that matter.  Dorothy Gardner and Georgia Ure did a great deal of work under the Ed Options Committee, as did Georgia and several others years ago that resulted in the large 5 binder report that I doubt the school ever looked at (like the MGT study Sylvia Thompson, Thurman Silks and others have commented on).

There is an Ad Hoc group looking at the 5th and 6th grade issue here in Hopkinton and a similar group looking to withdraw in Charlestown (full disclosure, my wife is on the Hopkinton group).  But none of these are advocacy groups and do not traditionally write commentary for publication (but I suppose there is no reason they couldn’t – Richard Hosp certainly has).

Last year, the Westerly School lost its vote for a bond in large part due to the efforts of RISC – a taxpayer group representing the south shore area. They did this by producing a flyer showing how much money went to teachers and administration and so little actually went to the children.  We posted the flyer at that time.

Look over that flyer and you can’t help but ask why they haven’t done the same for Chariho.  After all, the numbers actually are worse for Chariho. So why would RISC not come out against this bond?

The RISC donor base is Watch Hill and Charlestown. If the Chariho bond is passed, the inequitable tax situation will continue for another 20-30 years so we shouldn’t expect them to be on our side. Indeed, Mrs. Hosp is a RISC board member. The RISC agenda is not to be unexpected, nor is it a bad thing, for Charlestown. Taxpayer groups are largely groups that look out for their own self interests not outside populations – as well they should.

So that doesn’t really leave us many options.  The school will have about $9000 to promote the bond, the unions will do their part, and the only taxpayer group in the area will sit this one out while lobbying the local newspaper on the Charlestown view of the tax situation.

Not a pretty picture – and this is why, even after the documented (see this blog) obstructionist nature of Chariho, they will continue to ignore requests of accountability.

So, to answer all those calls and emails – I will continue here and writing to the papers. But the reality is, you are your only advocacy group.

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55 Comments »

  1. I hear quite a bit about RISC’s activities in regard to Westerly schools and town spending. I assumed they were a Westerly group, not a regional group. If Mr. Hosp is involved, it is no wonder they are silent on the Chariho bond re-vote. Charlestown stands to be a huge winner if they lock us into another 20 years.

    I’ve heard Chariho apologists refer to those opposed to the Chariho status quo as if we are a formal group rather than a bunch of individuals reaching our own conclusion with no leadership or cohesive agenda. There are any number of reasons to oppose the re-vote.

    Will there be any Hopkinton voters who were in favor of the original bond but will vote no this time in recognition of the illegitimacy of voting more than once for the same bond?

    Who will vote no because Charlestown shows no desire to hold Chariho accountable for free spending and poor results?

    How about voting no because Chariho’s grade configuration is detrimental to 5th and 6th graders and approving a bond guarantees our young children remain in an inappropriate learning environment?

    What about the reality that approving any of bond elements virtually locks us into the same untenable tax scheme for another 20 years…who wouldn’t vote no?

    There may not be any organized opposition to the latest attempt to maintain the Chariho status quo, but there are plenty of reasons why we should each individually reach the same conclusion. Voting no on the bond re-vote is the only hope we have to end business as usual at Chariho.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 13, 2008 @ 7:13 pm | Reply

  2. CR, RISC was originally known as Rhode Island Shoreline Coalition. Initially involved with mostly Westerly, Charlestown, South Kingstown and possibly Narragansett. They have changed their official name now to Rhode Island Statewide Coalition. I do believe that RISC is for open government, they have started their own website similar to OSPRI’s website showing payroll, budget, check registers, etc. That’s about all I know of RISC.

    Comment by CharihoParent — October 14, 2008 @ 7:13 am | Reply

  3. I suppose imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. And having more options for people to find the same information can’t necessarily be a bad thing, but their personal attacks trying to disparage the project is particularly disturbing – one would ask, are they trying to change the political structure of RI with the comments that they make or is this just more of the same old-boy power struggles that have kept the center-right movement in RI shackled?

    Comment by Bill Felkner — October 14, 2008 @ 8:34 am | Reply

  4. In reading OPRI website and observing OSPRI’s advocacy, it is clear that the mission doesn’t change based on the issue at hand. Openly transparent government along with accountability is a consistent mantra.

    In reading about RISC and their activities, they seem to be very selective and the agenda appears to be driven by what is in the best interest of specific groups. So while they vocally oppose a Westerly School bond referendum, they tacitly support Chariho Schools bond by their silence.

    I don’t trust an organization which lacks logical consistency. I’m happy they are promoting transparency, but since Transparency Train already accomplishes this public service, I’m not sure why they would use their resources for a redundant website? Is it about transparency or do they have ulterior motives?

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 14, 2008 @ 9:55 am | Reply

  5. Not sure what their reason is for having a redundant website. They were vocal at one time Chariho but, if I remember correctly, it wasn’t about the bond. It was more about other ways Chariho could save taxpayer dollars for one of the upcoming union contracts. They did come out with their suggestions rather late in the process.

    Comment by CharihoParent — October 14, 2008 @ 11:15 am | Reply

  6. CP’s comments go right to RISC’s selective advocacy.

    Reduced Chariho spending would benefit their Charlestown members. Approval of a Chariho bond would benefit their Charlestown members. Support for the school bond in Westerly is not in the interest of their Westerly members. Since RISC appears to be mostly a Charlestown/Westerly group, they use their resources to advance the interests of members from those towns.

    I’ll take all the help we can get in reigning in Chariho spending sprees, but RISC sure seems to be more concerned with its members’ interests than the well-being of the community as a whole.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 14, 2008 @ 11:58 am | Reply

  7. That’s exactly what many have accused them of doing. Apparently many of their members are of the more affluent persuasion, not the ordinary working person.

    Comment by CharihoParent — October 14, 2008 @ 2:07 pm | Reply

  8. I didn’t support this bond the first time and I don’t support it this time. Moving fifth and sixth graders back to elementary school is still priority for me. The bond jeopardizes any chance. I also agree with many of the other reasons for voting no. I watched Sylvia’s presentation today and it showed again why Hopkinton would be dopey to approve a bond without anything changing. Scott H. stopped by my house today. He and George A. were campaigning together. I didn’t get to talk to George but Scott said he is against the bond and George is for it. He gave me campaign literature which included the Chariho sheet about the bond. I thought it was better than last time but you could still tell they wanted voters to vote yes. I’m not sure why Scott was handing out stuff for the bond if he is against it but he said I could tell anyone he is against it. I’d like to vote for George but with him promoting the bond when it is so bad for Hopkinton makes me think twice.

    Comment by Jim L. — October 14, 2008 @ 5:57 pm | Reply

  9. PS If there is a group against the bond I would join.

    Comment by Jim L. — October 14, 2008 @ 6:00 pm | Reply

  10. Too bad about Mr. Abbott. Of all the School committee members he’s been on the right side more often than anyone other than Mr. Felkner.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 14, 2008 @ 8:06 pm | Reply

  11. Hi!
    The Chariho Times today had the Hopkinton Town Council candidates and statements and biographical material.Sylvia was not listed. Out of fairness to her, she is not into the Internet or computers. I am certain you cannot access the Hopkinton candidate thing online it online. I am AGAINST the bonds. George is on the building committee. I am against the bonds and I am willing to be quoted in the press about that.
    The political awkwardness extends to both Democrats and Republicans in Hopkinton on the school bonds. Beverly of the three Democrats supports them, while Sylvia and Tom oppose. You already been told the differences between George and me. Both Bill and Barbara Capalbo running as Independents are opposed to all three also.
    Regards,
    Scott

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — October 16, 2008 @ 6:21 pm | Reply

  12. I hope Hopkinton voters remember what SBH is best known for. Raiding the fund balance account until it was almost dry then forced double digit tax percentage increases on every single taxpayer in Hopkinton, the people he supposedly is working for but will stoop to any level necessary to try to make himself look good.

    Comment by CharihoParent — October 17, 2008 @ 7:00 am | Reply

  13. Mr. Scott Hirst should be proud of his leadership when he led efforts to push through the $2 million budget cut. I don’t know how much of Chariho’s budget was responsible for the 18% increase in Hopkinton’s budget?

    Charlestown and Richmond citizens clearly dropped the ball and missed an opportunity to demonstrate their willingness to hold Chariho responsible for an unreasonable budget. Just once I’d like to see the other two towns step up and join Hopkinton in demanding Chariho act in the best interest of the community rather than the best interest of Chariho employees.

    We don’t need to look back to see which politicians allowed Chariho to play “budget games”. The budget games continue while current Richmond, Charlestown, and some Hopkinton politicians look the other way.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 17, 2008 @ 8:09 am | Reply

  14. Polooski and Duh Day not only lied they were the arrogant bullies we see today. Duh Day got rewarded with the chairman job for his lies. I’ll never trust these two to do anything but take as much of our money as they can get their greedy hands on!

    Comment by I Was There — October 17, 2008 @ 8:33 am | Reply

  15. Mr. Day and Mr.Polouski were definitely instrumental in overturning the $2 million budget cut, but lets not forget the town officials who also were forecasting doom and gloom if the money wasn’t restored. The reality is that the voters were fooled into giving back money to Chariho which wasn’t even needed. Considering the glut of employees at Chariho, it says it all that they had more than $2 million extra and they couldn’t even find a way to waste it. They routinely throw away millions yet they were so flush with our cash they couldn’t even get rid of it. Mr. Scott Hirst was one of a very few policians who was willing to call Chariho out on its budget games…Mr. Polouski and Mr. Day were two of quite a few politicians either outright lying or too stupid to know any better.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 17, 2008 @ 9:16 am | Reply

  16. And guess which town is up for the chairperson seat after the elections. Charlestown!

    Comment by CharihoParent — October 17, 2008 @ 9:36 am | Reply

  17. Just a guess, but I think Polouski will pass and Holly Eaves will take the seat.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — October 17, 2008 @ 9:39 am | Reply

  18. I understand that each town gets a turn to play head honcho, but how is the chairman chosen? Does everyone on the committee vote or just the town members?

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 17, 2008 @ 2:15 pm | Reply

  19. Not sure how they select who the chairperson will be.

    Comment by CharihoParent — October 17, 2008 @ 3:17 pm | Reply

  20. I wonder…..can someone tell me exactly WHAT the State of RI will pay for any portion of the bond proposed for CHARIHO??? I have heard varying amounts from 0 to near 50%. I realize that the state is as broke as the residents, but prior to the bond vote, I would like to see the real numbers. Can you help? In light of the continuing economic decline, I do not see how anyone can vot for the bond at this time, that’s for sure!

    Do you have the latest information Mr. Felkner?

    Comment by Dorothy Gardiner — October 19, 2008 @ 7:06 pm | Reply

  21. From the Chariho School District Campus 2010 fact sheet, the full fact sheet is available on the Chariho School District web site.

    Approval of these projects will not impact the Chariho Act. All costs will be split evenly, in thirds, among the
    three member towns. More than ½ of the project costs will qualify for a 60% state reimbursement rate. If all three questions
    are approved, the District’s operating budget will be reduced by $296,552 per year in temporary classroom annual lease costs.
    Tax impact calculations are based upon December 31, 2007 valuations and do not reflect costs associated with short-term
    borrowing. Town impact fees and other town sources of revenue are not included. Capital projects completed during the
    summer of 2008 have been removed from this proposal, thus reducing total costs by $1,000,000; additional reductions are
    possible.

    Comment by CharihoParent — October 19, 2008 @ 8:51 pm | Reply

  22. I heard that the bond language does not guarantee the reimbursement. So, isn’t this fact sheet incorrect?

    Comment by Lois Buck — October 19, 2008 @ 9:18 pm | Reply

  23. There is no guarantee of the reimbursement amount. The figures “advertised” by the Chariho administration are best case scenario figures. Choosing to use the best case scenario during a year in which the state faces a 412 million dollar budget deficit is overly optimistic. This deficit was estimated before the financial collapse and downgrading of RI’s ability to borrow money. You will have to make your own determination if this will affect the budget numbers. My opinion is anyone but maybe a mushroom would have to agree it will only make matters worse.

    The minutes from the Charlestown Ad Hoc Withdrawal Update Committee also states: “…and with the current state of the finances in RI, there’s no guarantee on a certain amount of state aid.”

    http://charlestownri.org/vertical/Sites/%7BDF68A5B8-A4F3-47A1-AE87-B411E21C6E1C%7D/uploads/%7BB3528358-7150-4BA8-9F31-9F2C87BFCF5A%7D.PDF

    The following statement is an excerpt from an article during the 2005 bond issue: “Legally, the lawyers said, the General Assembly can pretty much do what it wants — even change the per-student basis by which the Chariho towns pay for a building project after it’s been approved.”

    http://www.redorbit.com/news/education/254686/rhode_island_school_district_may_see_change_in_financing/

    It appears some voters are basing their decision on the desire not to lose the state reimbursement. Their is no guarantee of one single dollar, so to vote based on this criteria when the state is facing its largest budget crisis ever, and the country as a whole is in a severe credit crisis is foolhardy at best.

    Comment by RS — October 19, 2008 @ 10:07 pm | Reply

  24. The reimbursement rates for the bonds are based on the current state law as it pertains to new and rehabilitative school capitol projects.R I House leaders reportedly objected to listing the actual rates in the Chariho bond legislation because it would be redundant to do so.Please check with Brian Kennedy or Barry Ricci if you need more information on the bond language or the reimbursement rates.

    Comment by george abbott — October 19, 2008 @ 10:12 pm | Reply

  25. If you look up the bills authorizing the referendum questions, it states in Section 1:

    “bonds and notes shall not be issued unless the conditions of Section 4 hereof as to the level of state school housing aid are met.”

    So I looked up Section 4:

    “Bonds and notes shall not be issued unless the Chariho Regional School District has received a letter from the Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education confirming that the Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education has approved the facilities to be financed for school housing aid.”

    I looked up the previous bond referendum question so check if similiar language was in it but I couldn’t find it. I also couldn’t find anything stating any kind of reimbursment percentages.

    I then looked up the 2005 legislation and found the actual reimbursement rate stated.

    “SECTION 4. Bonds and notes to finance the Phase I Project shall not be issued unless the Chariho Regional School District has received a letter from the Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education confirming that the Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education has approved the facilities to be financed for the school housing aid and that the then-current reimbursement rate pursuant to Sections 16-7-35 through 16-7-47 of the General Laws, as amended from time to time, or pursuant to any other law hereafter enacted providing for funds to municipalities or regional school districts for school construction purposes, is not less than fifty-six percent (56%).”

    Comment by CharihoParent — October 19, 2008 @ 10:45 pm | Reply

  26. The re-voted bonds should be rejected on their merits regardless of whether our left pocket reimburses our right pocket. We are the town. We are the state.

    Approval of any bond locks us into an unfair and untenable tax scheme for another 20 years. This alone should be reason enough to re-vote no on all three elements. If you’re too foolish to vote no for this reason alone, consider the following.

    The High School bond includes things like a refurbishing the track. In these trying economic times how can we justify taking money from struggling families to redo a track? The track is the most egregious waste, but there is lots more in the high school portion of the re-voted bond. Vote no.

    The Middle School bond element is unnecessary if we do what we should be doing and move 5th and 6th graders back where they belong. Student enrollment has decreased to levels not seen since the 1990’s. Why wouuld we even think of expansion? Why do we need expansion? Vote no.

    The RYSE portion of the re-vote is the most ridiculous waste. Besides the obvious question of why all children are forced into one program with one unproven treatment model, Chariho hasn’t even done something as basic as looking into the cost of purchasing the existing RYSE infrastructure. Vote no.

    If memory serves, Chariho has the option to redirect any bond monies to whatever they want. So if voters favor one element there may be no guarantee the money is spent where we think it is going. If this is true, then approval of the High School element could result in new buildings for RYSE.

    Factoring in Chariho’s propensity for irresponsible spending; lack of transparency, and unwillingness to be accountable to those of us paying the freight, why would anyone approve any of the re-voted bond elements? Other than Charlestown taxpayers giving themselves 20 more years of Hopkinton and Richmond subsidies, why does reimbursement matter when so much more is wrong with this picture? The only rational vote is no for the whole thing.

    The re-voted bond elements fails on their own, but weh

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 20, 2008 @ 2:12 pm | Reply

  27. I sent this email to Mr. Ricci, Sentor Breene, and Reprasentative Kennedy.

    Hello,

    In reading the Campus 2010 fact sheet dated 08/12/08, I notice the state reimbursement is listed as 56%. Is this a guaranteed number we can take to the bank? I ask this question out of concern for the fiscal condition the state is currently experiencing. Can this amount be changed by the legislature in order to achieve a balanced budget for the next fiscal year?

    Ricci has answered, here is his reply:

    I’ve been told that the state has never changed a reimbursement rate after a project has been approved. Actually, about ½ of our project will qualify for a 60% rate. I believe that the rate is as guaranteed as it can be. (It will be about two years before the state will need to reimburse Chariho.)

    ————————————————————————————————————

    My own research does indicate he is correct in a reimbursement never being changed, but we have never been almost a half a billion dollars in debt for an annual budget either, with an economy that is not showing signs of recovering soon.

    Comment by RS — October 20, 2008 @ 2:21 pm | Reply

  28. Here is Reresentative Kenndey’s response:

    I contact the House Fiscal Advisor Michael O’Keefe today regarding your question, and he has provided the following explanation regarding the Chariho bond issue that will be presented to the voters at the ballot box in November. I hope this answers any concerns that you might have.

    Sincerely,
    Brian Patrick Kennedy
    State Representative District 38

    ********************************************************************************************************************************************************************************************

    Representative Kennedy

    Chariho’s current reimbursement under current law would be 56 percent of principal and interest, assuming that Chariho goes through the Rhode Island Health and Education Building Corporation for its financing, and does the financing prior to any change to the law or formula. The state share is intercepted and goes directly to the trustee. That intercept and the state share is part of the bond and trust agreements. It is unlikely that the state would jeopardize its credit by violating the bond and trust agreements.

    Michael O’Keefe
    House Fiscal Advisor

    Comment by RS — October 20, 2008 @ 2:25 pm | Reply

  29. CR, While I do agree with a lot of your post #25, the one part where you’re off base is in saying that Chariho can redirect the monies from the bond. I’ve read through the laws authorizing the bond vote and here is what is in the bill:

    “The proceeds derived from the sale of the bonds shall be delivered to the treasurer of the regional school district committee, and such proceeds, exclusive of premiums and accrued interest, shall be expended (a) to finance the construction, renovation, improvement, demolition, alteration, repair, additions, paving, landscaping, furnishing and equipping of the Chariho High School and improvements to the Switch Road Campus, including, but not limited to, a maintenance facility, track, parking and utility and security upgrades (the “Project”), (b) in payment of the principal of and/or interest on temporary notes issued under section three; (c) in repayment of advances made pursuant to section four; (d) in payment of costs of issuance associated with the issuance of bonds or notes hereunder, and/or (e) to finance capitalized interest.”

    While this if from the bill for the high school portion, similar language is in the other two bills that were passed by the General Assembly.

    I understand your emotions on this issue but don’t let it cloud your vision and your statements. Best to stick with facts and not blur it with suppositions.

    Comment by CharihoParent — October 20, 2008 @ 3:19 pm | Reply

  30. First, it was a supposition and I put it out there for consideration.

    Second, I still have a recollection that the topic of redirecting bond monies was discussed somewhere along the line it was noted that Chariho’s administration and/or the School Committee does have the authority to spend the money in ways not specifically designated in the bond.

    Third, the language you provide seems to grant Chariho substantial wriggle room. RYSE could be considered an “improvement”. Maybe even be classified as a component of the High School. What you posted here may give you comfort, but I would need language which is very specific to agree with your interpetation. I have no reason to trust the administration or School Committee.

    Lastly, and most importantly, my objections to the bond are well known and Chariho redirecting bond money is low on my list of concerns…just as I feel reimbursement rates are small potatoes. If we get to the point of money being redirected or reimbursement rates being lowered, we’re already up the creek without a paddle.

    I merely mentioned the issue of redirected funds so those on the fence might have another variable to consider. Nothing you posted offers me assurances the redirecting money in ways not elucidated is off the table. Seems to me the bond language does the opposite and grants Chariho wide discretion.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 20, 2008 @ 3:36 pm | Reply

  31. Interesting information:

    1. Response to Mr. Kennedy by Mr. O’Keefe notes “under current law” the state pays 56%. In our current financial crisis, what will prevent a rapid (and timely, for the state) change in reimbursement?

    2. The language in the bond notes that “and improvements……..but not limited to”. SO, once again, it will be THEY pick, THEY chose, WE pay. Same old, same old.

    Lots of wriggle room, lots of room for “good ideas” that no one else (least of all the taxpayers) want or need, room for “innovation, new ideas” and all the other BS we are fed to justify whatever this group wants to do.

    Comment by Dorothy Gardiner — October 21, 2008 @ 1:21 pm | Reply

  32. #1 – Can you show me an instance where the state changed to reimbursement rate once a project was underway?

    #2 – Talk about taking words out of context.

    Dorothy, you’re a great complainer when it comes to Chariho. When are you going to run for the school committee so you can do something besides just complain?

    Comment by CharihoParent — October 21, 2008 @ 1:33 pm | Reply

  33. Running for School Committee seems to be a fools game. Mr. Felkner has tried for two years to change the culture of irresponsible spending and hidden agendas, but to little avail. Exposing Chariho’s games is the best we can hope for out of a School Committee member in the current environment. Mrs. Gardiner has been exposing their games for years as a private citizen. Why tie her hands with sealed minutes and closed sessions when she can speak her mind more freely now?

    Perhaps if Charlestown actually leaves there will be greater public outcry for transparency and responsible budgets and contracts. Until then, those like Mrs. Gardiner who pay attention to the shenanigans at Chariho serve us better as outsiders with no constraints and no allegiances to anything other than improving the situation for the community.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 21, 2008 @ 1:46 pm | Reply

  34. I should add that it has been the private citizens like Mrs. Gardiner, Mrs. Ure, Mr. Silks, Mrs. Botelle, and others who have the respect of many in Hopkinton and who have given people the courage to stand up to Chariho as they try to shove bond after bond down our throats. Rejecting bonds remains the key to any hope for change at Chariho. We barely kept them at bay with the last bond vote. The voices of these leaders are needed more now than ever as Chariho once again strives to pull the wool over the eyes of our community.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 21, 2008 @ 1:54 pm | Reply

  35. CR, and if they all banned together and ran for the school committee seats think of the difference they could possibly make. Get some forward looking thinkers from Richmond as well and then look at how things could change. But if people don’t want to run for the position you get the same old geezers on over and over again. You get the likes of Bill Day and Andy P. that will never leave the school committee.

    Comment by CharihoParent — October 21, 2008 @ 2:32 pm | Reply

  36. Show me when the state has been in a more severe financial crisis, and I will show all of you a time when the reimbursement was changed. The fact of the matter is there is nothing but goodwill and a credit rating which has already been lowered to keep the state from changing the amount. Goodwill from the State of (corruption) Rhode Island does not make me very warm and fuzzy, the credit issued should be foremost in the minds of our elelcted officials, and should be enough to make the reimbursement amount good. This being said, the state is in uncharted waters with the current fiscal problems we face, and they aren’t getting any better. Our states unchecked welfare and pension liabilities go far beyond what most fiscally responsible states have to deal with. It will be interesting to see how the nearly half a billion dollar deficit(1 year) is closed.Lets wait and see the budget for the next fiscal year which begins in little over half a year.
    It would not suprise me in the least if a Chariho building bond is not a priority in these current times. It seems I am the only one who continually brings up the fiscal crisis this state is facing, of course I have been watching the national mortgage and banking crisis unfold for many years. No, I am not some fiscal genuis, its takes simple accounting and some research to see what is happening.
    Oh well, my job is not tied to RI, so I can live anywhere in the world I choose…only rapidly aging family keeps me here, and we have all(entire clan) been talking of alternative places to live. I just wonder who is going to pick up the pieces when the train jumps the tracks? I guess the problem will fall on the shoulders of the current Chariho (and other) students who will be graduating and trying to make a living in RI over the next decade. I hope they are being prepared for what faces them in the real world.

    Comment by RS — October 21, 2008 @ 2:47 pm | Reply

  37. I don’t disagree in theory CP, but we need at least 6 responsible members, and we have one and 1/2. We can forget Charlestown, they may not have 4 responsible politicians in the entire town.

    RS I don’t disagree with anything you said about the current economic crisis. Rhode Island is near the top (with Michigan) leading the nation into financial ruin. Unfortunately, as evidenced by prior bond votes, until a majority are personally impacted by financial devastation, caring about the plight of one’s neighbors isn’t a concern to many voters when shipping money off to Chariho. Maybe the mindset will change this time?

    Even if we were experiencing in an economic boom, the situation at Chariho needs to change and the re-voted bond elements should fail on their own. It is never a good time to throw good money after bad.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 21, 2008 @ 3:19 pm | Reply

  38. I believe it was in 1993 or 94 when the state was in crisis, and they cut the state aid drastically. Hopkinton, and other communities, had to take out some long term loans to pay the bills. It was a tough time for most cities and towns.

    Just an opinion, they might stick to the letter of the law with the reimbursement rate, but that will not prevent them from cutting state aid to cities and towns. (Ie… robbing Peter to pay Paul here.) This is our past history, and history has been known to repeat itself.

    Comment by Lois Buck — October 21, 2008 @ 6:49 pm | Reply

  39. If this is the period of crisis you are referring to, you will notice the dollar amount attached to it isat least half what the cost is for the current problems. Its sort of ironic, if you change the dates, the dollar amounts, and S&L to financial institutions, this same crisis looks very similar doesn’t it?

    The savings and loan crisis of the 1980s and 1990s (commonly referred to as the S&L crisis) was the failure of 2412 savings and loan associations (S&Ls) in the United States. The ultimate cost of the crisis is estimated to have totaled around $560.1 billion, about $324.6 billion of which was directly paid for by the U.S. government—that is, the U.S. taxpayer, either directly or through charges on their savings and loan accounts[1]—which contributed to the large budget deficits of the early 1990s.

    The concomitant slowdown in the finance industry and the real estate market may have been a contributing cause of the 1990–1991 economic recession. Between 1982 and 1991, the number of new homes constructed per year dropped from 1.8 million to 1 million, the lowest rate since World War II. [2]

    Comment by RS — October 21, 2008 @ 7:36 pm | Reply

  40. Does anyone know the amount of money that the taxpayers are on the hook for in regards to the empty “Affordable Housing” development on Rt.3,just south of exit 2?

    Comment by george abbott — October 21, 2008 @ 9:05 pm | Reply

  41. George, can you tell us what the breakdown of students (by town) is for the district and how that will affect the percent of the total school budget we will be responsible for?

    Thanks,

    Comment by Dorothy Gardiner — October 23, 2008 @ 6:03 pm | Reply

  42. Dorothy:I asked Barry Ricci for this information earlier this week.He indicated that the count is being checked for accuracy before it is released to the School Committee and the public.He previously reported an increased Kindergarten enrollment at the Ashaway Elementary School.I’m hoping that this trend does not translate into an increase in our percentage of the Chariho budget.I believe strongly that this information should be made public before the election.

    Comment by george abbott — October 23, 2008 @ 10:01 pm | Reply

  43. No wonder they can’t manage the budget. Almost two months and they’re still counting heads.

    Do they have to wait until a certain date before submitting an official number? Or are they playing wait and see for political purposes?

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 23, 2008 @ 10:47 pm | Reply

  44. Historically,the information was made available in early October.This is why I posed the question to Barry Ricci.In fairness,they have been questioning residency eligibility more closely in the past few years.Divorced parents and house sharing situations often complicate matters further.We do have a part time private detective that works on disputed residency claims.This is another matter that would be partially rectified if Chariho became a taxing district.

    Comment by george abbott — October 23, 2008 @ 11:04 pm | Reply

  45. I’m surprised Chariho has responsibility for determining residency. Seems to me each town has the vested interest in whether a student resides in a particular town. Chariho would have an interest in whether they reside in the district. Maybe the new Town Council will look to change the procedure?

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 24, 2008 @ 6:44 am | Reply

  46. Seems to me it’s both that have the responsibility to determine residency. Chariho for the entire district and the towns to also determine that the students who say they reside in that town actually live in that town. In my mind, it’s a combined effort, not just one or the other.

    Comment by CharihoParent — October 24, 2008 @ 6:57 am | Reply

  47. For all those throwing up another smoke screen about the bond, from yesterday’s (October 24, 2008) Westerly Sun:

    ” Despite not speci­fying the state reimbursement rate in legis­lation for an upcoming school bond, state officials say the Chariho Regional School District would likely receive aid that school officials have advertised to taxpayers.
    Earlier this week, a Hopkinton town councilor opposed to the proposal and oth­ers questioned if a state reimbursement rate of at least 56 percent — stated on a “fact sheet” from school officials — is guar­anteed, given the rate is not specified in enabling legislation authorizing the Nov. 4 vote.
    In less than two weeks, taxpayers in Charlestown, Hopkinton and Richmond will consider a three-question referendum totaling $25 million in work on the Switch Road campus. A similar referendum that failed last year by 47 Hopkinton votes.
    State Rep. Joseph H. Scott, D-Exeter, submitted bills in May enabling a vote on the project despite disapproval from the Hopkinton council. The original bills, backed by Rep. Donna M. Walsh, D­Charlestown, included specifying a “reim­bursement rate of not less than 56 percent,” but it was eliminated after two hearings before the state House Committee on Finance.
    Scott said legal counsel for the committee recommended removing the language because the aid formula, computed by the R.I. Department of Education, could calcu­late a rate of 54 percent to 60 percent. Specifying the rate could jeopardize the legality of the bonds if they are approved, he said.” …… “On the same day the state House of Representatives passed enabling legislation for Chariho, it also approved legislation for school projects in Pawtucket and Portsmouth, both of which did not speci­fy a state reimbursement rate.” …. “Cole said the state reim­bursement formula in place when a bond referendum occurs is the one that would be used for construction costs. RIDE Director of Finance Carolyn Dias said a change to the formula is “usually prospective. However, with that said, in this environment they could reconsider all projects that have previously been approved, but that hasn’t been the case in the past.”
    State Rep. Brian Patrick Kennedy, D-Hopkinton, said he received e-mails from residents on the matter ear­lier this week, so he contact­ed House Fiscal Advisor Michael O’Keefe, who pro­vided this response: “Chariho’s current reim­bursement under current law would be 56 percent of principal and interest, assuming that Chariho goes through the Rhode Island Health and Education Building Corporation for its financing, and does the financing prior to any change to the law or formu­la.”

    I’m not saying whether I support the bond questions or not, I still haven’t made up my mind about that. I prefer to look at whether we can afford this in the climate of the current economy or not? Are we better off commiting to the needed repair of the facilities and holding the administration’s and the school committee’s collective feet to the fire to make sure facilities are properly maintained? Or are we better off continueing to pay for the repairs out of the operational budget? Now here’s an additional problem, it is my understanding, $450,000 is about to be taken or has been taken out of the fund balance account for so called “emergency repairs” to Hope Valley Elementary School, so now that account is getting low because funds were taken out of that account to lower the taxes assessed to the three towns. How much lower can the fund balance go?

    Comment by CharihoParent — October 24, 2008 @ 7:19 am | Reply

  48. I’m not sure what CP means by “smoke screen”? I could care less about reimbursement. I believe, when we begin worrying about reimbursement we are already in big trouble because it will mean the re-vote ploy succeeded.

    That said, The Rag report seems pretty clear, a reimbursement rate is not guaranteed. Since current law places the minimum reimbursement for Chariho at 56% (60% for some items), then removing the guarantee is a concession that the reimbursement is not guaranteed. Funny how past bonds contained a guaranteed figure and this time they removed it from all bond proposls. Coincidence? Are we stupid? Nothing complicated about the games they are playing in Providence.

    As for surpluses and fund balances, Chariho has never removed the multi-million dollar surplus they’ve been taken over the last few years. The surplus is an annual event. They don’t write it into the budget. Every year they pretend they really need all the money, but in the end, they have a couple of million not spent. I see no reason why this year will be any different.

    It would be nice if Chariho actually presented transparent budgets so we would all know where things stand. Since they refuse to be honest with the community, I think it is very reasonable to assume the current budget is no different than recent budgets. At $14,000 per student, a lack of money flowing into Chariho can’t really be a problem, can it?

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 24, 2008 @ 8:09 am | Reply

  49. CR, I read just the opposite from what you do.

    “Specifying the rate could jeopardize the legality of the bonds if they are approved”

    Comment by CharihoParent — October 24, 2008 @ 9:09 am | Reply

  50. WELL, in an answer to #35, perhaps the state is now in a more dire financial criss. Want to buy some bonds? The state hopes you will be able to, as they are selling 350 MILLION in bonds just to stay afloat and pay the bills!

    Now, if they are unable to raise this amount of money until JUNE 2009, where will CHARIHO be?

    Of course, the 350 Million dollar question is, If RI is able to sell 350 million in bonds, payable in June, 2009 with “competitive interest” WHERE will they geth THAT money???

    Will the state have to default on present or future payments?

    Comment by Dorothy Gardiner — October 24, 2008 @ 12:15 pm | Reply

  51. My understanding is these are the first bonds where the rate is not specified. All those other bonds were legal so what is different this time? The only reason the legality would be jeopardized is if the state didn’t honor the specified reimbursement rate. If anything, the statement that specifying the rate jeopardizes the legality lends more credence to the state not honoring the current reimbursement rate.

    Have no fear though, I am pessismistic that Hopkinton has enough votes to reject all three re-voted elements. The last vote lost by 47 and I would have to believe many of those opposing the bond favored one element or the other but voted no because they didn’t like certain bond components. Although I cringe at the disregard for the democratic process, I have to concede the Chariho apologists put themselves in a very favorable position by getting a re-vote. I expect the High School portion of the bond to pass.

    Hopkinton may surprise me, but should I be right, the next Town Council better get us in court so we can get relief from the inequitable tax structure. This is a battle we can win. We now have unequal taxation with unequal representation. Schools around the country tax by district, not town. Perhaps when Charlestown families are burdened equally they will be less tolerant of the irresponsible administration at Chariho.

    Re-vote no, but if all else fails, take it to court. If legal action fails, those of us with a brain will try to get out of here as quickly as possible.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 24, 2008 @ 12:30 pm | Reply

  52. Will the last person with a brain leaving Hopkinton turn the lights off?

    Comment by Dorothy Gardiner — October 24, 2008 @ 1:49 pm | Reply

  53. No need to turn off the lights. The ones left behind are in the dark even with the lights on.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 24, 2008 @ 3:37 pm | Reply

  54. I heard State Treasurer Caprio speaking about the $350,000,000 loan today. He claims short term borrowing has been standard for Rhode Island the last few years. Mr. Caprio said this time he wanted to share the investment opportunity with average Rhode Islanders. He insists big investors would cover the loans and he is not turning to Rhode Islanders out of necessity. He didn’t sound very confident though as he praised Rhode Islanders for pitching in during crisis. So what is it…an opportunity or a crisis?

    For anyone interested in investing in Rhode Island, Bank of America is handling the deal. But don’t worry, the reimbursement rate is solid 😉

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 24, 2008 @ 5:57 pm | Reply

  55. The head of the Rhode Island Republican party (sorry, don’t remember his name) has claimed that the $350,000,000 is not usual, and is indicative of Rhode Island’s dire economic situation. The more I hear, the more it seems the reimbursement rate was left out so Chariho can get their hands on our money regardless of how much we chip in through the state coffers.

    Comment by Curious Resident — October 25, 2008 @ 1:40 pm | Reply


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