Mayor Lombardi responds to Pallotta letter

Mayor Lombardi responds to Pallotta letter

This letter is in response to Chairman Pallotta’s editorial dated Nov. 6.

It is quite obvious that the School Department has no intention of utilizing the town’s resources to assist them in handling the school’s finances. I could not agree more with Chairman Pallotta’s statement that the School Finance Department should be properly staffed with highly qualified people to handle their daily operations. This is exactly the reason why I offered the town’s assistance. I did not feel that it would be prudent to hastily hire a new finance director to simply fill the position as they previously did.

Regarding my previous statement that the School Department does not have any business sense:

• The actual number of people working in the school administration office has increased, at the cost of an annual salary of $68,000 plus benefits. The newly created position, comptroller, in my opinion, duplicates the duties and responsibilities of the finance director. The School Department now has a finance director, a comptroller and a controller.

• As for copy machine savings of $50,000, it would be nice to learn the amount of the lease payments, before the savings. The town’s annual cost for all departments except for the School Department is $15,000.

• The savings generated by redistricting in the amount of $60,000 was a joint effort between the town and School Department. The Construction Committee suggested that the school refrain from hiring a consultant because the School Department never budgeted for that expense.

• As far as the $50,000 savings for the high school principal position, while I truly appreciate the superintendent’s willingness to assist the two assistant high school principals, the superintendent’s new salary of $161,000 more than illustrates the town’s appreciation. It is natural for one to ask why it took so long to appoint the assistant high school principal as principal.

• Chairman Pallotta stated that the School Department was level-funded. In the current fiscal year, the School Department received an additional $300,000 appropriation from the Town Council and my administration along with an additional $1.4 million increase in state aid.

• Supt. Goho stated, “The interim finance director will depart after a brief and appropriate transition.” This transition will cost $600 per day for the interim finance director and $430 per day for the new director resulting in a total daily cost to the taxpayers of $1,030.

• As far as the hiring of the former finance director, Chairman Pallotta was also part of the selection committee.

Chairman Pallotta solidifies my position by stating, “The closing of Marieville Elementary School and the building of the two new elementary schools on budget and on time is a prime example of when all branches of government work together for the good of the community.” However, he failed to acknowledge in his editorial that it was the mayor’s office that chaired the Building Committee. In addition, the town also assists the School Department with their communications, building maintenance, automotive repairs, fuel, and field maintenance.

As mayor, I am completely aware of the School Department’s autonomy. However, it is the mayor and Town Council who are responsible for funding our school system along with questioning financial inefficiencies when they arise.

While I applaud the School Department’s financial savings, I must remind Chairman Pallotta that it is our responsibility as elected officials to find savings whenever possible to provide our taxpayers with the best possible services, especially in education.

This response is intended to provide our taxpayers with accurate and valid information.

Charles A. Lombardi

Mayor of North Providence