PAWTUCKET — Despite the stern tone of the last letter to Mayor James Doyle from Acting Department of Revenue Director Rosemary Booth Gallogly on the city's budget situation, a spokesperson for the director told The Times on Friday that a recent meeting between the two sides had been “very informative.”
City officials had been given until this past Monday to provide the state Department of Revenue with documents and written answers to 18 questions pertaining to the city's $12.9 million budget deficit and plans to address it. In its second request for an extension, the city had asked Booth Gallogly on Nov. 29 to have until Dec. 31 to provide this information, but were only given until Dec. 13.
However, those on both sides said that all of the requested information was provided, and a meeting was held earlier this week between Booth Gallogly and members of both the Doyle Administration and the team of mayor-elect Donald Grebien.
Amy Kempe, spokeswoman for the Governor's Office, said that Booth Gallogly and her staff reviewed the financial data that was submitted, and that there were “a lot of questions back and forth.” “They went over all of the data, and I can say that the dialogue has been good,” said Kempe. “The DOR will continue to keep an open dialogue and will continue to work with Mayor Doyle and Mayor-elect Grebien to address the deficit situation.”
Kempe added that the DOR “will continue to assist the city in any way it can to address its financial situation.”
While city officials had said they had no problem providing the DOR with the financial documentation it requested, leaders on both the city and school side have maintained that they need additional time to meet with their respective unions to discuss concessions. A key part of addressing the budget deficit lies in gaining increased savings from municipal employees and school personnel through furlough days, increases in health insurance co-pays and other cost-cutting options.
Harvey Goulet, director of administration for Doyle, has said that there have been meetings with all of the municipal unions, and, while he could not provide specifics, said he remains “optimistic” that some agreements on concessions can be reached. Schools Supt. Deborah Cylke has also expressed optimism about similar talks with the teachers union.
Kempe said that the DOR realizes that the resolution of the contracts issue could take some extra time. She also said that the DOR “knows that the city is going through a change of administrations and that adds another level of complexity.”
However, Kempe reiterated that “the state takes the issue of its cities' finances seriously, because they are interlinked, as seen in Central Falls.” She added that this is why Booth Gallogly and the DOR need the type of financial information that Pawtucket was asked to provide. “And it will continue to work with the city to address its issues,” she added.