Woonsocket City Councilor James Cournoyer issued a response to an August 1, 2022 press release from council candidate Garrett Mancieri.
Cournoyer said “Mr. Mancieri, in an attempt to be relevant, criticized the current City Council with regard to modest budget amendments they passed for fiscal year 2023.
Specifically, Mancieri complained that the City Council increased the tax levy by less than 1% ($489,411) above that which the Mayor proposed. Mancieri also naively said that the Council ‘raised property tax rates to have inflated contingencies’.”
Cournoyer noted that the less than 1% tax levy increase came after six consecutive years of levy decreases and provided funding for the following recurring operating expenses that were left out of the Mayor’s election-year budget proposal:
- funding for collective bargaining contracts (Local 808 Police, Local 732 Fire, Local 3851, and Local 670), all of which were expired as of June 30, 2022
- a $150,000 increase in school funding after several years of no increases
- restoration of funding for our Senior Center that was eliminated in the Mayor’s budget
- providing salary increases for non-bargained employees after being told that the exodus of employees from City Hall was the result of low pay, as opposed to a toxic work environment
- providing books and supplies for our library
- funding the city’s election costs
Further, Cournoyer noted that Mancieri parroted the Mayor’s election-year talking points with suggestions that American Rescue Plan Act (“ARPA”) funds should have been used in lieu of the modest tax levy increase. However, Cournoyer explained that ARPA should not be used for normal operating expenses so as to not create structural deficits in future years and that the majority of the city’s ARPA funds have already been ear-marked for large, onetime expenses, while at the same time the City faces several additional large ticket items for which funding will be required, including our Waste Water Treatment facility and demolition costs associated with several blighted properties.
Cournoyer said “it did not go unnoticed that, while complaining about taxes, Mr. Mancieri’s parents will enjoy a more than $1,175 (22%) tax decrease on their property at 372 Congress Street where Mr. Mancieri resides.”
“Perhaps if Mr. Mancieri himself made an investment in the City and actually received a tax bill, he would be more informed on these matters”, Cournoyer added.
In reference to Mancieri’s statement that, if elected, he “would not participate in political factions” Cournoyer said “Mr. Mancieri should know that his former running mate, Councilman David Soucy, not only voted in favor of the budget amendments, but he also voted to over-ride the Mayor’s veto.”
According to Cournoyer, “Mr. Mancieri’s misguided comments are reminiscent of his naïve and uninformed criticisms of siting the City’s new water treatment plant on City owned property off Jillson Ave”.
“If Mancieri had his way, not only would he have blocked progress, but our new water treatment plant, which by all accounts has been nothing but a success, would be located outside of Woonsocket and subject to the whims (and taxes) of another community”, said Cournoyer.
Cournoyer concluded by suggesting that “Mr. Mancieri should stick with party-planning and cheerleading from the sidelines, while leaving the heavy lifting to the adults”.