It’s not everyday a local municipality picks up a cool $60 million. North Providence did just that this year, as a settlement with internet search engine Google netted the small fortune for the town (East Providence will also receive $60 million while the Rhode Island State Police will pocket $45 million). The money is –temporarily- earmarked to finance the construction of a municipal police training academy, but North Providence Mayor Charlie Lombardi told the WPRO Morning News that the funds may also help a struggling pension system.
“We’re still waiting for the federal government to give us the nod to extend and give eighteen million dollars to square away our unfunded pension system.” That’s good news for a city which has turned around its financial struggles,” says Lombardi.
Not all was rosy in the town’s police department, however. Questions are still being asked about officers’ justice meted out to a group of juveniles caught allegedly vandalizing mail boxes. The officers ordered the juveniles to the ground for a set of punishment push-ups.
“Say that person had a heart murmur,” Lombardi told Andrew Gobeil, “and that person had a fatal heart attack. As a Mayor I cannot condone that act. I cannot condone it.”
The town’s finances –notwithstanding the Google settlement- appears to be headed in the right direction, Lombardi said. “Financially, we’re doing great.”
Just down the road, Cranston’s Mayor is facing the same financial challenges and has struggled to reconcile an unfunded pension mandate there. Alan Fung is moving forward with his call to freeze COLAs for Cranston’s retirees, but he chuckles at the stories that garnered headlines in his city. The so-called prayer banner, long hanging in one of Cranston’s schools, was removed after a suit from a city student (Fung defends the city’s actions in originally fighting -then halting the fight against- the suit). A city council ordinance allowing for chickens to be kept in the city was later vetoed by Fung.
“You know,” he said, “we received more phone calls, more emails about those issues than any tax increases. That speaks a lot to, not only Cranston but to people in general, it’s always these personal issues that really catch fire."
Fung, frequently discussed as a possible GOP candidate for Governor in two years, says the challenges he faces today prevent him for addressing a race two years from now. “There won’t be any race if we don’t continue to do the work to stabilize the city of Cranston,” he told Gobeil.
Health & Wellness
News & Tips for staying fit in the Ocean State
Free, local print & mobile savings
Go Green RI
News & Tips for sustainable living in Rhode Island
RI Pet Center
News & Features especially for animal lovers