Chariho School Parents’ Forum

April 26, 2009

Huh?

Filed under: Hopkinton,Tax — Editor @ 4:29 pm

Does it strike anyone else as odd that we (Hopkinton) will be voting on a $2million dollar bond to purchase land so as to restrict housing developments because they attract young families that have expensive public school students – but then we will also be spending $98,000 to develop “affordable housing” because there is a “shortage” of such houses (that presumably attract families with expensive public school students)?

Look for something in the Sun and Times from me on this issue coming soon.

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67 Comments »

  1. I’m sure plenty of hopkinton residents since their taxes are to high to sell would provide that ‘shortfall’ just to get out of Taxkinton. If they need a 100 houses let me know the qualifications to help provide the stock.

    Comment by Trevor — April 26, 2009 @ 6:05 pm | Reply

  2. Re Reading isn’t school choice a way to help solve some of this problem?

    Comment by Trevor — April 26, 2009 @ 6:13 pm | Reply

  3. What seems REALLY crazy is that all of the housing stock that we have that is “affordable” is not considered “affordable” by whatever agency that determines that particular issue. Used to be that you bought a house lot, paid for that. THEN, you built a basement dwelling, and paid for that. THEN, you got a mortgage and built the house! Now I know with all of the good laws and regulations we have, that building and living in a safe basement dwelling is frowned upon, but can’t people build something they can afford, pay for that, and then add on as they can afford it? OR, buy one of the homes that is in their budget and available right now????? If you count the affordable home stock, we sure have plenty right now! Maybe we can change the law to allow all homes in the afforable range to be included as “LOW INCOME”????

    Comment by Dorothy — April 27, 2009 @ 7:25 am | Reply

  4. Dorothy’s points are well taken. The frustrating issue with adding ‘Affordable Housing’ to our community – we need 10% (and we are at 6.8%) – is that our low and moderate income families that comply can not be counted because they do not receive federal, state or local subsidies.

    Therefore we might begin with a base of 15% or 20% of our families being within the regulations but not counted – and then we must add another 10% that can be counted by the state. Barrington or Little Compton, for instance, might actually need 10% of housing stock for low income and they might begin with a base of 2% that is uncounted. Our ‘affordable housing’ for elderly is under-rented and does not have a waiting list at all.

    Certainly having good affordable housing stock for families is a worthwhile goal. If we could create small 1/2 acre lots for young families (like my neighborhood with a community well) in specific areas of our villages it would be helpful. But at the moment we have mandatory 2 acre zoning. There are many of our citizens who prefer the larger acreage for privacy and personal preference, but in some areas of our villages it is perfectly reasonable to have smaller house lots to create ‘affordable’ starter homes.

    Comment by Barbara Capalbo — April 27, 2009 @ 11:35 am | Reply

  5. Both ladies make great points. But if we make smaller lots for young families isn’t that counterproductive to the mission of Open Space – that is to restrict families with kids from moving into town.

    Comment by Bill Felkner — April 27, 2009 @ 11:42 am | Reply

  6. BUT….I do NOT understsnd why various programs needed to finance homes can not be used for those in the “Low or moderate” income housing. As far as 1/2 acre lots go…I do not think that is a good idea. I understand that with a local shared water supply that waste is not a big problem for the owners if the water supply is located some distance from the housing, but there is the chance of having a very fertile filed of contaminated soil from a large outflow of septic waste. Expensive systems only add to the electrical and maint. bills for a homeowner.

    Comment by Dorothy — April 27, 2009 @ 2:35 pm | Reply

  7. As we move forward regarding the above issue. I offer you this.

    Study: Subdivision numbers show losses for Hopkinton. Authored by Ryan McBride, Tuesday November 25, 2003

    HOPKINTON_ Figures presented to the Town Council Monday night indicate bottom line benefits to acquiring open space, advocates say.

    Numbers indicated that the municipal cost of large subdvisions far exceeds their tax income for the town. The Hopkinton Land Trust proposed that a $5 million bond would enable the town-funded agency to purchase large parcels for open space, rather than allowing developers to subdivide them.

    Land Trust member W.Edward Wood presented data from a study completed by Ariana E. Johnson, a graduate student from the University of Rhode Island’s Department of Community Planning and Landscape Architecture.

    Some taxpayers have griped that education costs consume 80 percent of the town’s total spending, and the study indicates that each new home generates an average of 1.27 students for the school system. While the town spends $6,330 per year for each student (blogger note this was only six years ago), the average home generates just $2,983 in property taxes, according to the study.

    Using an existing 14-lot subdivision built in 1996 as an example, the study indicated that by 2000 municipal costs ($60,000) to service the development exceeded tax revenue ($40,000); And while the town’s tax revenues from the subdivision have slightly increased, education costs continue to spiral.

    Wood noted that the town’s proximity to Interstate 95- coupled with relatively low land prices, low interest rates, and 191 undeveloped parcels of more than 20 acres-make Hopkinton ripe for future residental development.

    The Land Trust’s proposed $5 million bond-which would be paid over 25 year period-would provide enough boying power to purchase 1,000 of open space.

    The town now has 12 percent of its total area, or 3,600 acres, of permanent open space, and 3300 acres of temporary open space is protected under the Farm Forest Open Space Program, according to figures presented Monday night.

    Figures proect that the yearly debt service from the $5 million dollar bond would increase annual property taxes of a $250,000 home by $115 or $9.50 a month.

    And despite the bond’s expense, councilors voiced support for its bottom line incentives that could help the town avoid millions in municipal expenses. the council would have to endorse the bond to place it on the ballot at the next Financial Town Meeting.

    “I look forward to supporting this,” said Councilor Scott Bill Hirst, who noted that residents primarily concerned with the “bottom line” could warm up to the bond when presented with actual saving they would reap.

    “You’re going to be able to seell (the proposed $5 million bond) to people who are not normally environmentally conscious,” he added.

    “Personally, I’m sold on the idea,” said Council President Linda DiOrio.

    “Anything we can do to curtail the expenses (in town) is certainly worth doing.”

    Following Town Treasurer Kenneth Finch’s endorsement of the statistics presented in the study, councilor E. Robert Corrigan said, “I have absolutely no problem supporting (the bond).”

    With the majority of the five-member council likely to support the $5 million bond-which the council will formally address at the next Town Council meeting on December- the item should appear before voters at the next Financial Meeting in June.

    Author, Ryan McBride, THE SUN, Tuesday, November 25, 2003

    Comment by james hirst — April 27, 2009 @ 3:40 pm | Reply

  8. There’s a follow up article dated December 3rd about worries of budget cap. When i have full article I will post. Hopefully it provides some insight.
    Be Well, Hopkinton Voters!

    Comment by james hirst — April 27, 2009 @ 3:47 pm | Reply

  9. Hi!
    1.The affordable housing situation should logically be based on BOTH current and future housing stock to meet the state requirement. I believe it is 10% of housing stock. This is misleading as affordable housing is not necessarily what it seems, it is still tough for people with low incomes. I believe Hopkinton is ahead of the majority of Rhode Island communities or certainly was several years back.
    2. I have been inclined to support “open space” as it is a selling point for Hopkinton is it environment.
    3. The state has steadily has not stepped up to the plate on serious property tax reform, and state funding on education.
    4. I was and have been labeled anti-development, however the state takes in account tax bases in state aid calculations, and in addition to that, we cannot give tax breaks to all businesses that come into Hopkinton.
    5. There needs to be “more leadership” in the Chariho region! How can two “leaders” both members of the Richmond Town Council, one in banking, another teaches finance at the university level, just not take a stand on the Chariho budget revote on May 12TH?
    Enough said!
    Regards,
    Scott

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — April 27, 2009 @ 3:58 pm | Reply

  10. Hi!
    A bill is being considered this week by Rhode Island House Committees on lessening advertising requirements for school committees using the word from “shall” to “may”‘. It is called House Bill H35497 ,. Check out http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText09/HouseText09/H5497.pdf ,. Check on committee hours but I understand no time available Tuesday, April 28Th but in Room 205, for House Judiciary Committee, State House. April 29TH, House Finance Committee, House Sub Committee on Education, Room 35, State House.
    Recheck this information before you go up. It is best to contact local legislators. Interestingly, this legislation seems to give school committees this flexibility other boards and commissions don’t have including town and city councils!
    Regards,
    Scott

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — April 27, 2009 @ 4:17 pm | Reply

  11. If anyone watched the last RTC meeting, I believe the position was rather clearly stated. To take a stand in oppostion to the budget jeopodizes both town budgest, Hopkinton and Richmond, since Chariho could then just go back to last years budget with last years payments. Councilor Oppenheimer explained the, I believe it was 4, definitions of insanity when it comes to the current Chariho budget situation, I wish I hadn’t already deleted it from my DVR, I would get them for you. By the same token, they didn’t want to endorse this budget either, I think that was fairly clear as well. I also was made to understand that some members of the CSC have bitterly complained to the RTC about the lack of support and have blamed the RTC and voters of Richmond for the budget not passing on the last vote. We, the voters of all three communities, now have to decided, do we risk going back to the last budget and have higher payments for Richmond and Hopkinton that what the new budget allows for?

    Comment by CharihoParent — April 27, 2009 @ 5:12 pm | Reply

  12. Survey done by the Friedman Foundation in case you are interested.

    http://www.friedmanfoundation.org/downloadFile.do?id=361

    Comment by Lois — April 27, 2009 @ 5:45 pm | Reply

  13. Richmond voters are gagged by the taxes Chariho Parent as are the Hopkinton Voters. It can be argued that if you don’t like it get out! Richmond and Hopkinton residents are already trapped not only during this economy but many who could have sold their homes at market prices when the potential buyers see the taxes they can’t sell there home. Thanks for participating Chariho Parent but Richmond isn’t the problem, nor Hopkinton. Ms. Thompson of Hopkinton has noted as has Ms. Ure about Chariho budgeting practices which for a lack of a better word are not above board. It has been noted in recent years. Some have longer memories. Again thanks for participating Chariho Parent your voice is respected.

    Comment by james hirst — April 27, 2009 @ 5:53 pm | Reply

  14. Statutes to consider:

    http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE16/16-2/16-2-21.4.HTM

    Comment by Lois Buck — April 27, 2009 @ 6:02 pm | Reply

  15. http://www.rilin.state.ri.us/Statutes/TITLE16/16-2/16-2-23.HTM

    Both statutes were referred to within the Chariho Act.

    Comment by Lois Buck — April 27, 2009 @ 6:04 pm | Reply

  16. We can debate affordable housing, open space, and lot sizes, but all arguments lead back to Chariho. If homeowners were not overly burdened by Chariho’s generosity to its employees and the surge in numbers of employees, all the other issues would be cast in a different light.

    I understand that rejecting the Chariho budget will result in more taxes, but when and where do we take a stand? The problem of Chariho will not go away until enough people feel enough pain to pay attention. Do we again capitulate and let the status quo rule the day or do we inflict short term pain in hopes of long term gain?

    Personally, I doubt anything will work. God love him, Mr. Silks has probably been fighting this same battle for decades and where have we gotten? Chariho still remains the gigantic spending monster…nothing ever changes.

    The bond was our best chance and we blew it. Maybe we’ll have to wait another 10 or 20 years when Chariho comes looking for another bond. With any luck my family will be long gone by then.

    Comment by Curious Resident — April 27, 2009 @ 8:38 pm | Reply

  17. The next Chariho budget vote is Tuesday, May 12th. If the budget does not pass at this referendum, then the school board has one more chance to revise the budget and re-submit to the voters before July 1st.

    If the third attempt is voted down then the Chariho Act says that we must use the prior year’s school budget.

    Comment by Barbara Capalbo — April 28, 2009 @ 3:01 pm | Reply

  18. “Richmond isn’t the problem, nor Hopkinton. Ms. Thompson of Hopkinton has noted as has Ms. Ure about Chariho budgeting practices which for a lack of a better word are not above board.”

    Well that’s where I would disagree. Chariho budgeting practices are a direct result of Richmond, Hopkinton, and yes even Charlestown. We are the ones who elect those illustrious members of the school board who are supposedly negotiating in good faith for OUR benefit. Now, what I’d really like to know is who really thinks that, anyone who is a teacher, is married to a teacher, or who’s son/daughter, etc is a teacher, is able to negotiate a labor contract with a teacher on the opposite side of the fence? Can’t do it? Then why do you people keep re-electing these same board members? Stand up and tell them that you’re not going to take it anymore.

    Comment by RichmondResident — April 28, 2009 @ 3:13 pm | Reply

  19. Lets see……the RI Ethics Commission, the RI Attorney Generals office, The State Supreme court, the Legistlature, and surely some that I missed all think its ok for nepotism and conflict of interest where the unions and politics in RI are concerned. This has been the status quo for the 15 years I have been in RI.

    Comment by RS — April 28, 2009 @ 4:10 pm | Reply

  20. You mean some blew it on the bond.

    Comment by Tom — April 28, 2009 @ 4:44 pm | Reply

  21. Hi!
    Real good politicians learn to work with unions but also the administration and other politicians. A rejection SHOULD NOT NECESSARILY WOULD, force the majority of school committee members and town council members to come up with a budget that could pass. Obviously the final budget to be determined in the school committee’s choice.
    The closeness of the first vote may or may not portend necessarily passage or failure of the next vote. Those who think their vote does not count may actually turn out when they did not in the first vote. The higher the turnout, the more it can generally be said, it dilutes the voting power of the school bureaucracy and parents of school age children, in the vote totals. However it must be remembered all voters from defineable groups, do not necessarily vote the same way. I continue to support an all day referendum regardless of turnout. It insures privacy, convenance, and forces more debate in the “public square”, and more people at least generally participate in decisions. It also can avoid several motions that can take place in a meeting which consequences cannot be quickly judged, made in the “heat of the moment”.
    I DO NOT THINK IT WISE TO GIVE OR LET THE TWO RICHMOND TOWN COUNCIL MEMBERS OFF THE HOOK ON THE UPCOMING CHARIHO VOTE!
    Regards,
    Scott

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — April 28, 2009 @ 4:58 pm | Reply

  22. Calm down, you’ll pop some blood vessels, can’t even understand what you’re trying to say. The RTC is NOT happy with the budget as it stands, across the board. What’s difficult to understand about that? Strange this coming from a former councilor that raped the fund surplus in the town he resides in.

    Comment by CharihoParent — April 28, 2009 @ 6:39 pm | Reply

  23. Chariho Crack Head Parent, hope your getting your monies worth out of Chariblow. I didn’t know one persons vote on a Council is a majority. Wow, you are totally wasted dude. You probably got stone and messed up at Chariho while the papers quoted administrators that their was no drug problem at Chariho.

    Comment by Dude — April 28, 2009 @ 8:10 pm | Reply

  24. As much as you hope lipstick will make the pig look prettier, it’s still a pig. Just because the RI powers think it’s ok for these nepotism issues to exist doesn’t mean it’s right.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — April 28, 2009 @ 10:24 pm | Reply

  25. Where did anyone say that one persons vote is a majority? You say that I’m wasted? Better go check yourself into the closest treatment center, not sure if it’s a mental problem or a drug problem that you have.

    Comment by CharihoParent — April 29, 2009 @ 4:27 am | Reply

  26. RI Ethics Commission??? That bastion of moralness? That’s what you’re going to make your decision based on?? If the RI Ethics Commission says it’s OK, then it’s OK with you??
    By the way, holding on to that has really helped both RI and Chariho eh? Both are in really good shape.

    Comment by RichmondResident — April 29, 2009 @ 2:54 pm | Reply

  27. Hi!
    I am not going to “pop a blood vessel” over two Richmond Town Council members, but they are CURRENT elected officials!
    Regards,
    Scott

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — April 29, 2009 @ 4:07 pm | Reply

  28. Do they represent you? No! Have you been to any RTC meeting to hear what they have said? No! I’m 1000% percent positive about that. At least the RTC hasn’t had to raid and rape the surplus fund as you have done while on the HTC. Look at what you have done on a town council before you start pointing fingers at other town councilors.

    Comment by CharihoParent — April 29, 2009 @ 4:46 pm | Reply

  29. I think Chariho Parent or alledged Chariho Parent needs a time out. That means you can sit on the Fool Committee and sit with your elected time out officials. This one official raped the surplus fund as they did on while on the HTC?. It was noted somewhere this one persons vote that you didn’t agree with and was supported by the council if not brought to a Town people vote was a majority.
    Point fingers at what town. Do you work for a Mental Health Facilty as some have alledged. Buying Ice Cream and deciding on what quality time is at the States expense?

    Comment by Trevor — April 29, 2009 @ 8:30 pm | Reply

  30. I have been as universally opposed to this budget as anyone, and I actually went to the budget meetings, wasn’t a lot of company their … With that said I have had many conversations with all the RTC members, as a group they are still unhappy with the spending. Some are more unhappy than others.

    Painting Oppenheimer and Reddish with the same brush just shows the ignorance of whomever thinks that’s true. Reddish is a consensus guy, he wants everyone to buy into decisions; a noble goal, but impractical for this situation. Oppenheimer is a pragmatic realist, he agrees the budget is still too high, but their are state issues that impact ability to make real change (maint. of effort, etc.). He points out that regardless of the next referendum vote, there is still more wrangling to come as he feels the chances of state level funding is near zero. If Chariho doesn’t make offset reductions, the ensuing bloodbath in Richmond will be a scary thing.

    Myself, I’m on the fence for the next vote, on one hand I don’t think it matters (see above), but realistically the end game is next year. With the Chariho surplus raided and the extra $250k cut, next year to stay under Pavia-Weed tax cap is going to be a feat of extraordinary ability. It will likely cause a substantial tax increase right before 7 CSC seats are up for election. The proverbial iceberg is inescapably drifting in front of the CSC Titanic. The die have been cast, maybe Terrell Owens can loan us some popcorn.

    CP is an entirely reasonable voice in our conversations, where the justification for the mudslinging is coming from I’ll never know.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — April 29, 2009 @ 9:21 pm | Reply

  31. I’m not above slinging some mud. Oppenheimer failed his town’s poorer citizens when he joined with other political leaders in strongly advocating for the bond. Sorry, but I find it hard to believe he’s now found fiscal sanity when it comes to the budget. He’s known all along how Chariho can string budgets along until we are forced to revert to the prior year’s budget. It’s easy to say your against this particular spending when you know it is inevitable.

    Other than changing the make-up of the School Committee, the bond was the last, best hope for finally reigning in Chariho spending. I simply don’t believe that Oppenheimer, or anyone else in a similar position, wasn’t fully aware the bond was our conduit for change. It’s easy to now claim you want to see Chariho act responsibly when they have no incentive to do…this rhetoric is disingenuous in my opinion. I’d prefer these useful idiots shut up as they did enough damage by successfully influencing a Hopkinton majority of idiots to go along with them on the bond.

    I will be praying the Chariho Titantic goes down soon, but if it does, Oppenheimer should stand right beside Ricci going down with the ship as they are both culpable for taking us into dangerous waters.

    Comment by Curious Resident — April 29, 2009 @ 9:36 pm | Reply

  32. CR, you throw mud? Nah, don’t believe it!

    The bond issue doesn’t hold a lot of water with me. The goal was to force Charlestown to pay their fair share, there’s little chance the activities of the towns are going to move that rock. Doesn’t seem the GA wants to either. Other states have the same issue, NH has been under State SC mandate to fix the problem for ~10 yrs, still nothing.

    There’s no denying that Chariho dollars go to staff and not capital uses, like the track that won’t last as long as the bond, yes, very stupid, maybe I will buy a car over 20 yrs.

    Oppenheimer has been very strait with me, always an honest answer, I’ve never felt BS’ed.I think there’s more conversations going on then we know about. I’ve heard from several RTC members that CSC has been chewing on them, but yet no change in policy.

    This Chariho problem is serious for us, the next stuff we have to cut are things like cops, staff, ambulance service, kid & senior programs. Not much else. Comparably, Hopkinton has a lot more discretionary spending to go after, heck we can’t afford an open space bond, Richmond is the poor town in this district.

    Yes, I know, can’t figure it out either, no idea why Richmond votes for the Chariho budgets so often.

    On a separate note, I will vote against the budget again, after reading the Chariho Act some more, the CSC is required to keep sending budgets for revote every ~6 weeks until one passes. With the teacher contract being negotiated, we have to draw a line in the sand that more money isn’t coming to fund increases.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — April 29, 2009 @ 10:17 pm | Reply

  33. Reasonable people can disagree on the impact of the bond’s failure. Even unreasonable people such as myself might disagree. Yes, holding Charlestown’s feet to the fire was one objective, but also forcing Chariho to adequately fund maintenance and spend budget money appropriately was another.

    I never thought tax equity was possible, but knew that if we were ever able to drive out the 800 lb. gorilla a.k.a. Charlestown’s infintesimal tax rate, rejecting the bond was the only chance. Now they’ve secured themselves another 20 years of Richmond and Hopkinton servitude and there is nothing to stop them from approving spending far beyond our willingness to pay. Oh, well, you reap what you sow.

    Only one Richmond leader understood the importance of rejecting the bond, and he left the council due to work responsibilities. All the others might as well have been more of Ricci’s hand puppets (maybe they are)…and who can forget the infamous vote of confidence. Whatever they were talking about behind closed doors, their public rhetoric was very supportive of everything Chariho was doing and has done.

    As I’ve noted, if I personally knew the players in this unending saga of futility, I might find them very likeable and reasonable…I might even like Ricci. But assessing their public actions from a distance, I can only shake my head with disgust as they’ve failed the lower wage earners of our Chariho community time after time after time. I find it pretty disgusting and I have a hard time attributing good intentions to any of them. How do “good” people do what they’ve been doing to the financially lesser among us?

    Comment by Curious Resident — April 29, 2009 @ 10:33 pm | Reply

  34. I agree, Tuthill gets it, of course working in the White House for a while let’s you see the big boys screw people. He’s the one that got me involved and pointed me to this site.

    The current RTC is a different beast, all three new members have expressed grave concern with Chariho spending, haven’t heard any cheerleading recently.

    What surprises me the most is that in all three towns the CSC is considered a junior job to TC, although they control a budget much larger than the towns. I would think people would follow the money.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — April 29, 2009 @ 10:43 pm | Reply

  35. I’ve long wondered why Hopkinton and Richmond voters respond so differently to Chariho spending. I used to think it was because Richmond is loaded with union and government employees, but others have said this isn’t true. I still think this dynamic is in play, but something else occurred to be when contemplating the actions of Oppenheimer and Reddish and their attitudes compared to the Hopkinton Town Council (I don’t know enough about the other Richmond councilors, but maybe Gene or CP can fill in the blanks).

    Maybe the differences in leadership have to do with the background of town leaders? Maybe the Chariho issue is more about blue collar/white collar than government/private?

    Consider this, Mr. Buck, Mrs. Thompson, and Mr. Felkner consistently fight for the little guy. They seem to understand that there are families who are financially devastated by Chariho spending. I can’t say for sure, but Mr. Buck and Mrs. Thompson strike me as people who have worked hard in life. They may have white collar occupations (or not), but I think they more likely have spent their adult lives working very hard for everything they’ve attained…maybe even physcially hard work. Mr. Felkner could be described as white collar now, but in reading about his life experiences, it sure sounds like he’s had his fair share of blue collar existence.

    Now I’m not talking about childhood experiences, because children don’t fully understand or appreciate the efforts of their parents, but if you enter adulthood by going to college and moving on to white collar work maybe in some respects you can’t grasp the struggles and labor of the working class? Maybe your priorities are distorted and limited by your experiences and killing yourself just to get by eludes your ability to comprehend or empathize? I have a number of relatives who have followed this track…I love them to death…but I definitely see in them an inability to recognize the demands it takes to get through life without a college degree or a desk job.

    Assuming this theory is true, we see Richmond led by Oppenheimer and Reddish…a professor and a banker. Not to diminish either occupation, but having done my time doing physically difficult and exhausting work, and also having had exposure to the relatively less onerous work of teaching (especially at a college) and banking, I think my theory could explain the disconnect between lives’ realities and Richmond voting patterns.

    Hopkinton is clearly a blue collar town. In recent years I’ve seen more and more white collar-types move in, but still, the dominant culture remains blue collar. Richmond appears to have a greater percentage of white collar, although they clearly have a good amount of blue collar. Now think about how this might play out when it comes to voting. I literally beg blue collar friends and acquaintances to vote on the budget, yet I know many, if not most, choose to stay home. Most of them are off to work right around the time the polls open, and they either forget; are too tired; or simply get settled in after a long day and don’t vote. Because Hopkinton is mainly blue collar, even though we don’t get a huge turnout, many of those who do vote naturally come from the blue collar segment.

    On the other hand, in Richmond the white collar workers have time in the morning before going to work. They also have time after work. They are less physcially tired. They also spend their days engaged in more intellectual pursuits with politics being a regular topic of discussion during their day. They make good money, and they value education because it has been good to them. They equate spending with quality even when it flies in the face of reality.

    I don’t know if my theory has any merit, but I have longed believed we need to get more of the “workers” to understand and care about how their money is being spent (wasted) by government. They tend to get easily discouraged and think their votes don’t matter. If we are ever to get Chariho under control and adequately performing, we have to find a way to appeal to blue collar folks. We need them and they need us to recognize how darned hard they work and how we must think of them when we vote. I may be all wet, but I wonder?

    Comment by Curious Resident — April 30, 2009 @ 12:00 am | Reply

  36. CR, Seems logical to me.

    Comment by Lois Buck — April 30, 2009 @ 7:05 am | Reply

  37. The answer may be far simpler, Hopkinton has a large loyal loud group of involved people that get the word out. Before I met Tuthill, I had no idea what the issues were in town. Now that I have opinions, I talk to lots of people, very few of them had a previous opinion other than “money for schools is good”.

    Consider what it must have been like before blogs to get information out to the public …

    Comment by Gene Daniell — April 30, 2009 @ 8:08 am | Reply

  38. Hopkinton certainly has our share of loud voices, but do we turn out that many more voters? I’m not so sure.

    I’m simply amazed by how many people stay home, from all three towns. I empathize with those with lives so busy and draining they can’t find it in themselves to vote…or maybe they think “what’s the point”, but I would rather have Chariho get everything it wants with 70% turnout than have it get rejected with 20% turnout. I’d be frustrated to be sure, but at least then we’d know what the people want.

    Comment by Curious Resident — April 30, 2009 @ 8:33 am | Reply

  39. ……and don’t forget, some of us are working out of town during the vote. Without a mechanism for absentee voting, these people are left out. I know the number is probably very small, but why is it acceptable that a taxpayer is denied their right.

    Comment by RS — April 30, 2009 @ 9:31 am | Reply

  40. Gene,
    Nice way of saying that the problem in Richmond is “voter apathy”, or at least that’s my phrase to explain why the voters of Richmond are the way they are. I’ve found too many Richmond residents don’t pay attention to what’s going on. Until last year, I’ve seen low attendance even at our Town Financial Meetings. I think the higher than normal attendance last year was probably due in large part to people getting upset with the Richmond seniors citizens. It’s really a shame when slightly over 100 people get to determine the budget for the entire town. The citizens of the town then complain about high taxes for the town but in reality, less that 25% of the taxes collected stay in the town and the rest goes to the school district.

    Another part of the equation is that Hopkinton taxpayers in some of the previous years have been hit with some very substantial tax increases, I know of at least one year in the 90s when it was a double digit tax increase and twice more since 2000.

    Comment by CharihoParent — April 30, 2009 @ 9:37 am | Reply

  41. Hi folks. Please forgive me for an off-topic post as I announce I’m ending my active participation in this blog, since I’m moving out of Chariho.

    I moved to Richmond some 20 years ago because it was the place we found the nicest, least expensive starter home. I’m not moving for financial reasons, but moving to North Kingstown will make my life simpler and save me lots of driving time and gas money, so that’s what I’ve done.

    Best wishes to all, and continued good luck dealing with Chariho. Thanks to Bill for creating this forum.

    Comment by david — April 30, 2009 @ 5:16 pm | Reply

  42. David, sad to see you go, you’ve always been a voice of reason.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — April 30, 2009 @ 5:35 pm | Reply

  43. David,
    Good luck in your future endeavors. You will be missed.

    Comment by CharihoParent — April 30, 2009 @ 8:12 pm | Reply

  44. CP, As far as the 90’s, I think the substantial increase in taxes for Hopkinton was related to the state slashing state aid to cities and towns, which is similar to the current situation that we may face if the state takes the same course. I know this as I have talked with Sylvia Thompson about this very subject.

    The recent 2 councils for the HTC have tried to operate on a lean budget. The budget is actually lower than last year’s, but the revenues, with the recession, have been drastically reduced.

    It is unfortunate when your school budget takes almost 80% of your tax dollars, and it seems we have little ability to stop it. I will be voting “NO” on May 12th.

    There was a letter just prior to the vote that Mr. Petit wrote to the Westerly Sun. In it he referenced a fund balance that he presumes Hopkinton to have. What Mr. Petit should have done is researched his subject a little, because if he had he would have found out that the cash he presumes the town is sitting on is not all fluid. The town figures into this number the cost of all its assets. This includes property owned by the town. I reference this because he seems to think the town has the ability to dip into a substantial surplus fund just like the school committee has tried to do with this budget. The town simply does not have the wiggle room to play this game of Roulette that the school committee wishes to play with the surplus money.

    Which leads me to wonder, “The only thing that makes me feel that the reason they are not concerned is that they “know” that the district will incur another $2+ million dollar surplus, which I have no doubt will occur (Past Practice).”

    I am glad the town does not have this ability to play such games. My hope is that the people of the 3 towns will continue to pressure the district to change its ways. Dipping into surplus funds is a bad idea, as CP has alluded to (HTC past practice).

    So, vote “No!” It is time to take a stand, once and for all.

    Lastly, David, Best of luck in your move. Come and visit us on the blog sometime.

    Comment by Lois Buck — April 30, 2009 @ 9:45 pm | Reply

  45. Hi!
    I think AFFORDABILITY is perhaps the greatest reason people vote for or against the budget. Charlestown has an assessable base greater than the other two towns COMBINED. In addition Charlestown has less students than the other two towns individually, and has among the lowest property tax rates in the state.
    Richmond has by thousands of dollars a bigger median household in income than the other two. Hopkinton and Richmond are closer in assessable bases and amount of students, while Hopkinton and Charlestown are closer in median household income. Check out the towns at Rhode Island Kids Count at http://www.rikidscount.org ,.
    Regards,
    Scott

    Comment by Scott Bill Hirst — May 1, 2009 @ 4:17 pm | Reply

  46. Mrs. Buck, state funding may have something to do with the ridiculous tax increases a few years ago, but I remember researching this issue in anticipation of defending former Hopkinton leaders from criticism by CP, and son-of-a-gun, he was definitely correct this one time as Hopkinton spending increased significantly. If state funding was the sole reason or even the biggest reason, why didn’t Richmond or Charlestown have similar tax increases?

    Most of the double digit budget growth came from the police department budget surge, but the highway department also spends far more than Richmond. I suspect the police officers we hired with federal grants were being moved to the town’s payroll around this time.

    I disagree with Mr. Hirst on “affordability” being the key factor in how we vote on Chariho budgets. Most people can afford a few hundred dollars more in taxes every year. The families forced out are not that many. Most of us spend thousands every year on discretionary things. A few less dinners at The Brick Oven and a little less spent at Christmas, and we can cover most Chariho spending increases. For the richer people, a few bucks less put into retirement easily covers the costs.

    The problem isn’t affordability, but attitudes about government’s responsibilities. Do you feel government should be a charity? Sure makes life easier than having to take the time deciding where you want to give to charity if government does it for you. Plus, you can feel good about yourself if you spend on the “right” stuff.

    What could possible be wrong about giving more to government schools? You must be a great person if you’re willing to sacrifice more of your money “for the children”.

    For me, I’m a control freak. I earn the money and I want to decide where it is best spent. I want the government taking as little as possible, and I want what they do take to be spent responsibly. Chariho doesn’t take as little as possible, and they do spend very irresponsibly. If I were a billionaire I’d vote against every budget and every bond until Chariho demonstrated a willingness to use other people’s money properly.

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 2, 2009 @ 12:47 pm | Reply

  47. Mrs. Buck, state funding may have something to do with the ridiculous tax increases a few years ago, but I remember researching this issue in anticipation of defending former Hopkinton leaders from criticism by CP, and son-of-a-gun, he was definitely correct this one time as Hopkinton spending increased significantly. If state funding was the sole reason or even the biggest reason, why didn’t Richmond or Charlestown have similar tax increases?

    Most of the double digit budget growth came from the police department budget surge, but the highway department also spends far more than Richmond. I suspect the police officers we hired with federal grants were being moved to the town’s payroll around this time.

    I disagree with Mr. Hirst on “affordability” being the key factor in how we vote on Chariho budgets. Most people can afford a few hundred dollars more in taxes every year. The families forced out are not that many. Most of us spend thousands every year on discretionary things. A few less dinners at The Brick Oven and a little less spent at Christmas, and we can cover most Chariho spending increases. For the richer people, a few bucks less put into retirement easily covers the costs.

    The problem isn’t affordability, but attitudes about government’s responsibilities. Do you feel government should be a charity? Sure makes life easier than having to take the time deciding where you want to give to charity if government does it for you. Plus, you can feel good about yourself if you spend on the “right” stuff.

    What could possible be wrong about giving more to government schools? You must be a great person if you’re willing to sacrifice more of your money “for the children”.

    For me, I’m a control freak. I earn the money and I want to decide where it is best spent. I want the government taking as little as possible, and I want what they do take to be spent responsibly. Chariho doesn’t take as little as possible, and they do spend very irresponsibly. If I were a billionaire I’d vote against every budget and every bond until Chariho demonstrated a willingness to use other people’s money properly.

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 2, 2009 @ 12:48 pm | Reply

  48. CR’s in the right zip code, it’s not so much about the amount of money Chariho consumes, but the:

    1. Lack of student achievement … Other districts have far more hurdles, we don’t have many ESL students, parents have better jobs, etc.

    2. Lack of transparency / good faith … I know they aren’t straight with us. For comparison, RTC members I find to be very direct, I’ve yet to get a “foggy” answer.

    3. Lack of spending tax dollars wisely. Taking raises in this economy, etc.

    4. Nepotism

    And even if these problems didn’t exist, their are choices that have to be made, e.g. dcyf social workers have tough jobs and don’t make much money. Seniors deserve some services, economic devel projects are worthy, unemployment benefits, hospital aid, etc.

    It’s not “all about the kids”, there are many other critical areas that need money. Certainly education is important, but far from the only deserving area.

    Consider that the next items to cut in Richmond might be police, dpw, or ambulance aid, does anyone actually think they are not worthy costs?

    The CSC found $250k pretty quick a few weeks ago, I bet they could find another $2 million I’d they looked for it.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — May 2, 2009 @ 1:16 pm | Reply

  49. Since he asked, yes, I suspect the Richmond police department could be significantly reduced. Since I don’t pay for it, I don’t care, but in researching police spending as a percent of municipal spending a few years ago, Richmond was only behind Hopkinton, and both towns were heads and shoulders above every other Rhode Island community. Considering both towns have little crime, the police departments consume much more value than they deliver.

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 2, 2009 @ 2:00 pm | Reply

  50. CR,

    From being on the Richmond finance board for a couple of years, I can tell you why the police are such a big part of the Richmond budget. Many other parts of the town government are still in their infancy, whereas the police department is a relatively fully functioning, 24/7 organization. Richmond does not a town recreation staff, GIS staff, IT staff, a town manager (yet), and it still has part time employees as a significant part of the town work force. So I would not say the police are a large proportion of the budget because they are too big; its more like other parts of the town government are very small (or at least smaller than most towns).

    There have been a few meetings among the three towns councils to discuss consolidating certain things. Police dispatching would be a good idea, along with certain public works activities requiring specialized equipment, as would (possibly) IT support.

    Comment by david — May 2, 2009 @ 5:54 pm | Reply

  51. David,
    I’ve looked at the police department budgets for both towns. Hopkinton’s Fy 08-09 is over two million dollars, Richmond’s Fy 08-09 police department budget is just over 1.2 million dollars. I agree with your assessment of why the difference between Hopkinton and Richmond police department budgets. One other factor I think you failed to mention is that many of the Richmond town employees are underpaid when compared to their counterparts in other communities.

    Comment by CharihoParent — May 2, 2009 @ 6:20 pm | Reply

  52. Are they underpaid or are the counterparts overpaid? I have been studying the differences between various police contracts lately as it is up this year, and I have noticed that Richmond has avery good market oriented contract (performance not seniority, etc). But we can’t say they are underpaid – they must be paying enough to find employees and when I was on the school committee all we heard were raves about how good they were.

    I think most are upset about the seniority based compensation. As an example, even in this economy where most people don’t get a raise and are just happy to have a job, we have some police officers who will get a 16% raise this year. Insane!

    Comment by Bill Felkner — May 2, 2009 @ 7:33 pm | Reply

  53. The size of the municipal budget is obviously relevant, and I really don’t care if Richmond wastes their taxpayers earnings, but in my mind, $1,200,000 in policing for Richmond is absurd, and $2,000,000 in Hopkinton is insanity. I leave the decision in the hands of the people paying, but should Chariho prevail in their budgetary madness, then I know Hopkinton can offset at least some of the increase by decreasing the spending of the police department.

    I’ll never understand the fear of 21st century Americans. The police rarely stop crime, they investigate crime, and there simply isn’t $2,000,000 worth of investigations going on around here. If you’re a big fan of speeding tickets and harassing citizens who publically oppose the spending of the police department, then I’m sure you are thrilled by Hopkinton’s move towards a police state over the last 20 years.

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 2, 2009 @ 7:44 pm | Reply

  54. With probably very few exceptions the Richmond town employees and town come to mutually reasonably agreements. They probably aren’t compensated as well as others in the area, but hopefully they like working in Richmond. We have lots of volunteer positions that in other towns are paid employees.

    They also watch our money very well, can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard Scott Barber (DPW Dir) thinking of ways to save a buck. This is the mentality we need at Chariho!

    There’s a lot more to a job than just the pay, just ask someone who had a boss they didn’t like.

    CR … We could debate police spending for a long time, but the consensus in Richmond is that we like having the third shift. You may be right that it’s money not spent well, but we still only spend a little more than half what you do, so when your police budget is that same as ours, we can talk about the wasted money again.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — May 2, 2009 @ 7:53 pm | Reply

  55. They stopped a breakin at my house a few years ago when the responded to my home alarm. The alarm was inaudible where they broke in, had they known the state police would show up 1/2 later, surely I would have lost a bunch of stuff.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — May 2, 2009 @ 7:58 pm | Reply

  56. Maybe the police can be a pay as you go thing then Gene. I’m betting $1,200,000 would replenish a lot of stuff. As I said, as long as Richmond isn’t robbing me blind, they should feel free to rob their willing citizens.

    Hope you weren’t looking for a debate, because Richmond does do a better job on muncipal spending than Hopkinton…maybe this frees up people to approve any Chariho spending measure? And Hopkinton does spend a ridiculous amount on policing.

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 2, 2009 @ 8:09 pm | Reply

  57. Ref #52: BF, I wasn’t so much referring to the police as I was the other town employees. I look at what Charlestown and Hopkinton pay their employees and, to me, it looks like many are paid less in Richmond as compared to their counterparts in the other towns. It is my understanding that the Richmond union contract calls for a 1% annual increase in salary but it can be higher based on individual performance. I wish we could see something similiar with teacher contracts, salary increases based on performance, not a guarantee.

    Comment by CharihoParent — May 2, 2009 @ 8:37 pm | Reply

  58. Gene,
    I’ve done the debate already with either CR or RS about the police. Personally, I like the idea of the 24/7 in town police presence.

    Comment by CharihoParent — May 2, 2009 @ 8:39 pm | Reply

  59. Ah, I see. That may be the case – can’t speak to it. But you are dead on with the police contract – i was pleasantly surprised to see performance in a public sector contract (and theysaid it couldn’t be done).

    Comment by Bill Felkner — May 2, 2009 @ 8:54 pm | Reply

  60. What still boogles me is that Richmond has historically given Chariho everything but is super frugal in town. While Hopkinton holds Chariho’s feet to the fire, but has a spendier town reputation.

    It’s just make sense to me …

    Charlestown I get, they have gobs of money, so spending isn’t a real problem.

    Comment by Gene Daniell — May 2, 2009 @ 9:18 pm | Reply

  61. Never thought of it that way. I can’t explain it either except to say that the vast majority of Richmond voters/taxpayers don’t pay as much attention as they really should. For example, I know a couple of the people that were on the Education Avisory Committee a few years back, they had held a public workshop, only 1 citizen from town showed up for the public workshop. We have a huge problem called “voter ignorance/apathy” in Richmond.

    Comment by CharihoParent — May 2, 2009 @ 9:42 pm | Reply

  62. Re: #58, there really isn’t much of a debate. Richmond taxpayers can decide for themselves what they want to waste their money on. At least Richmond has a highly dense stretch of business which does justify some level of police patrol. Hopkinton has pretty much nothing. The place shuts down at 10 PM. I think we may have one hole-in-the-wall bar? Spending $2,000,000 on policing in Hopkinton is utter craziness. We have next to no crime and we end up with police officers chasing around their critics because they have nothing better to do.

    Having spent much of my life around here and having lived in the towns (including Richmond) with and without the police state, doesn’t seem to be any difference…I was worrying about speeding tickets when Hopkinton had a handful of police and I worry about it now.

    The police are like every other government entity. They spend considerable time convincing voters how badly they are needed. Chariho has its psychologists and social service government employees “for the children” and Hopkinton and Richmond have a slew of police “for the fearful”. So we have virtually no crime, and the police rarely stop crime anyway, yet here we are paying an arm and leg to make us “feel” better. Not as expensive, but not too different from what has happened at Chariho. Someday I’m going to find a place still occupied by the brand of Americans who brought this country to greatness. I’m tired of the mamby-pamby northeast attitude.

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 3, 2009 @ 2:55 am | Reply

  63. If you’re not speeding then you don’t have to worry about speeding tickets. I know it’s something I generally don’t worry about since in my 30+ years of driving I’ve never gotten one.

    Comment by CharihoParent — May 3, 2009 @ 6:55 am | Reply

  64. Yes, I’m sure you never exceed the speed limit and assist old ladies crossing the street too. Alas, some of us are more perfect than others.

    Comment by Curious Resident — May 3, 2009 @ 2:28 pm | Reply

  65. I finally know who the guys is in the passing lane doing 65.1 MPH.

    Comment by RS — May 3, 2009 @ 3:58 pm | Reply

  66. I just know better than to push it to far over the speed limit and know the speed traps quite well along I-95. 65.1 in the passing lane? Nah.. I do about 69.9 in the passing lane just to annoy drivers from NY, NJ, MA & CT. Now that I know I’m also annoying drivers from Hopkinton I might do it more frequently.

    Comment by CharihoParent — May 3, 2009 @ 6:20 pm | Reply

  67. It never bothers me, you can tell by the damage on my front end……Scotty..ramming speed.

    Comment by RS — May 3, 2009 @ 7:35 pm | Reply


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