Alba: We must save every dollar possible, promote business

Alba: We must save every dollar possible, promote business

SMITHFIELD – New Town Council President Suzy Alba said during her own state of the town address Tuesday that the upcoming budget process is going to be “one of the toughest ones that Smithfield has seen in a long time.”

Alba said the difficulty is a result of the reduction of $1.5 million in state aid and the potential debt service payment associated with the $45 million elementary school reconfiguration bond and $4.5 million fire station bond.

Alba said elected officials must scrutinize municipal finances and make adjustments to the budget to minimize impact to the taxpayer.

“Every dollar that is saved is one less dollar that our taxpayers have to be burdened with,” she said.

“I do want to be clear, however, that no funding decisions have been made at this time and the allocations for the school budget have not been presented or finalized,” Alba said.

She said her answer to combatting a problematic budget is to create new business opportunities in town to expand the tax base. She said the Economic Development Commission is working to make Smithfield a more business-friendly community.

“We need to collectively think out of the box and create economic opportunities wherever possible so that we can continue to offer the quality of services that you deserve and continue to make Smithfield the wonderful community that we all call home,” Alba said.

She said the town is aiming to streamline the process of registering, licensing and fees to new and existing businesses and will amend ordinances to do so. The town also updated a guide to starting a business in Smithfield.

Alba cautioned that developing a broader commercial base needs to be done responsibly.

She said to work within financial restrictions, town departments need to continue to work together, and not against each other.

“I would like to assure everyone in this room that this will continue to be a council that continues to work collaboratively and collectively in order to achieve what is best for residents of our great community,” Alba said.

Alba plans to recognize the good deeds done by community members in what she’s calling the new Smithfield Samaritan Program. The council will select an individual or business going above and beyond with good deeds to be celebrated and honored each month during council meetings.

“People do a lot of good things that we don’t know about,” she said.