Info in hand, Catanzaro ready to restart budget season

Info in hand, Catanzaro ready to restart budget season

NORTH PROVIDENCE - Town Council President Kristen Catanzaro says she's received all the missing financial information she needs to restart the 2014 budget season.

The council president had stated that Finance Director Justin Cambio failed to provide details on as many as 10 items by the day of a scheduled budget meeting on April 28.

Cambio denies that there was any information still missing by the day of the budget hearing, saying Catanzaro repeatedly ignored his offers to give her the information that day.

Catanzaro said it doesn't matter whether Cambio believes he had all the information she had requested ready. The fact is that she didn't have information on numerous financial questions in hand to review and didn't feel comfortable holding the meeting without the council having the chance to look at all of the information.

The people of North Providence and the Town Council deserve the "respect" of full transparency before any budgetary matters are decided, said Catanzaro, as she takes everyone's involvement in the process seriously.

The council president said she wanted to give all council members "at least five days to review" the financial information from Mayor Charles Lombardi's administration after she received the last piece Monday. She will schedule a council session "as soon as possible" once everyone has the information in hand.

Cambio was still fuming Monday about Catanzaro halting a budget process he said could delay tax bills and require the town to borrow money to pay for bills after officials told ratings agencies they wouldn't need to borrow.

None of the information requested by Catanzaro has a bearing on the current budget proposed by the Lombardi administration, said Cambio, but that didn't keep him from getting all of the information originally requested in time.

The 10 items asked for by Catanzaro and forwarded to her by Monday were:

* A taxes receivable report

* A listing of what board and commission members earn

* Total earnings for 27 town employees for Fiscal Year 2013

* A detailed report on the town's contingency account

* Preliminary net assessed values for all town properties following a 2013 revaluation

* A printout on structure and pay in the town's law department

* Information on payments to Rosewood Consulting

* Information on payments to McCabe Enterprises

* Details on town tower and property rentals

* And a list of police cars purchased and where the funding for each came from

Cambio called Catanzaro's cancelation "unnecessary" and said her "allegations of unavailable information" were untrue. A follow-letter from Catanzaro and the council ignored his invitation to come in to pick up the information requested. The letter also only included three of the original items requested by Catanzaro and the council, he said.

Catanzaro countered that she doesn't even know how Cambio and Lombardi came up with a budget given the lack of information provided to the council at a budget workshop two weeks ago. Information like the preliminary assessed values would be key to coming up with an accurate budget proposal, she said.

"How do you put your budget together without those numbers?" she asked.

Cambio emphasized again that members of the Lombardi administration did have the numbers requested by Catanzaro and were fully prepared to defend the budget as proposed on April 24.

Lombardi's budget calls for a 70-cent tax increase for the 2014-2015 fiscal year. The mayor contends that 20 cents of that increase is directly tied to Catanzaro's move to freeze spending of the town's $60 million winnings from a 2012 Google settlement.

The initial 50 cents is needed to fund increased pension, pay and health care costs in local schools. School officials had requested another $600,000 for technology upgrades, but were denied.


Look at what the Mayor and his Finance Director are saying, we gave information requested, well some of it. They are giving out raises and benefits to all even though the town is rated as a DISTRESSED COMMUNITY (meaning we are in the top 20% of OVER-TAXED towns based on taxpayer's income and property values, we are one of six distressed communities in the state with this crummy rating). This town is out of financial control and is mismanaged by the administration. We spent almost $500K for a new fire pumper because the other one was getting old (but still running like new)and that was not in a line item in this years budget. The Mayor saying $0.20 tax increase is tied to not spending Google money for the fire dept is a crock, WE DON'T HAVE TO SPEND additional funding for the fire dept, this is optional.
If anything NP is going to go down the tubes being mismanaged as it has been, surpluses that don't exist, spending on building out the fire dept like we are living in a tinder box, making our police dept futuristic for crime waves and turning a blind eye on education for a school district that is rated 22nd in the state. To bad NP does not have a set of PLANNED PRIORITIES. Yes, the town council needs all information to see what in the world is going on in this distressed community.