Charter Changes Should Promote Fiscal Stability, Better Management of City

East Providence City Manager Peter Graczykowski very pleased that voters endorsed four amendments to the city charter in Tuesday's election.

Voters in East Providence approved four amendments to the city charter last Tuesday, Nov. 6, that should promote “fiscal stability” and help to “manage the city better.”

So said City Manager Peter Graczykowski on Thursday morning. He couldn’t be happier that voters approved the changes to the charter.

Which go into effect immediately, he emphasized.

“I’m very pleased,” he said. “I’m glad they endorsed them.”

Three of the four amendments were approved overwhelmingly by voters. The fourth, establishing four-year terms of office, was less so but still had a 54 to 45 percent margin of victory.

The amendments, Graczykowski said, are a few more steps forward in helping to pull East Providence out of its financial quagmire and return control of city finances to local officials from the Budget Commission.

The first two amendments on the ballot give the City Council the ability to synchronize the fiscal and tax years and to build up a “rainy day” savings account.

The final two allow the city to recruit farther and wider for key city officials and don't require them to live in the city, and give city councilors and school committee members four-year terms of office starting in 2014.

“There are no restrictions now on going outside of the city if the council wants to find talented officials,” he said.

An RFP for new legal services, for instance, went out Thursday, Graczykowski said. He did not have to limit the search to East Providence.

The reserve fund gives East Providence for the first time a pot of money it can dip into if it needs to for emergencies. Every other muncipality in Rhode Island has some type of reserve fund.

“It’s like a savings account the city never had before,” Graczykowski said.

The money will come from holding spending at 99 percent of revenues, with the remainder going into the reserve fund. With a $100 million budget, he said, $99 million could be spent. The $1 million would be set aside for a rainy day.

“We can borrow from it if we need to,” he said. “But we must pay it back within three years.”

And the reserve fund won’t add to the tax bill because it’s not being added; it’s coming from money not being spent.

How the City Council decides to synchronize the fiscal and tax years remains to be determined. It could happen all at once; it could happen gradually over several years. The latter would take special legislation in the General Assembly to do it.

“We’ll let the financial experts tell us the least expensive way,” he said.

Either way, the city is looking to change its fiscal year from Nov. 1 to Oct. 31 to July 1 to June 30 – the fiscal year followed by other municipalities in Rhode Island.

pferd November 09, 2012 at 12:08 PM
taxpayer November 09, 2012 at 01:26 PM
And Tow Truck Tommy Rose, (the ethics king) wants to be Mayor!!! We are living in the twilight zone!!
Rags 1 November 09, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Voters made the right decisions on the Charter amendments. Two year terms are a-typical and not the norm in most progressive communities throughout the country. It allows for continuity and workable consensus on goals and objectives. City Manager was right to take a position on these important issues.
Paul November 09, 2012 at 02:49 PM
The term limit extension vote was a tremendous blunder. A 2011 study at UC Berkeley looked at all the benefits and drawbacks of extended term limits, and at the kinds of behaviors that term lengths tend to drive in politicians. What the study found is that frequent accountability to the voters far outweighs any other factors in terms of of keeping politicians focused, effective, and honest. East Providence has opted to move in the direction of less accountability for our politicians. There was nothing before precluding the voters from re-electing competent city officials. What we have now lost, as a result of this vote, is the ability to rid ourselves of the rotten apples before they do too much damage.
Bruce Zarembka November 09, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Of course the city manager is glad all four passed...now he doesn't have to move into the city...and he thinks he's pulling the wool over the peoples eyes by saying he can now recruit nationally...we could always recuit nationally...the requirement was that you had to become a city resident within a certain amount of time...we were never limited to where we could recruit from. On the four year terms...two key components were left out, RECALL and TERM LIMITS...who do you think this change to the charter was for...The inept...anyone that is doing their job and what's right for ALL citizens doesn't have to worry about two year terms.
CA November 09, 2012 at 05:23 PM
100% agree with Paul comment 4 year tearm WILL cause more harm if we have rotten apples. There were some big changes with the elections I hope and pray that the newly elected officals will bring good to people of east providence.
Diane November 09, 2012 at 11:09 PM
I voted against all four questions, if I understand this right, four year terms would not take affect until the next election. If enough residents push the new council maybe we can get this changed on the ballot in the next election, or at least get the word "RECALL" in there. Anyone notice the city manager was the council docket at Wednesday night's council meeting for a performance review in executive session, wonder how that ended up??? Did he get a raise??? I doubt Rose would be mayor, he only knows how to second the motion.
Rags 1 November 10, 2012 at 02:18 PM
Society has spoken, some will disagree, some don't care, many agreed, and the amalgamation is the essence of what democracy is all about. Nothing wrong with term limits; rather, it's the quality of persons elected that really count. Recall should be difficult because it can be used to call for new elections any time a group disagrees with decisions that leadership has to make. It should be allowed for serious ethics charges that are provable, not some frustrated opinions. Recall with limitations, term limits, and home rule adoption of early voting should be next. Sticks and stones don't get to the real issues, it is usually a display of ignorance.


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