[Submitted by Mike Donegan]
The views expressed here are my own and not those of the East Greenwich Town Council.
Those of you who know me know that I am not a tribal partisan warrior who enjoys this place of division and vitriol in which our nation finds itself. So, I was heartened when our community voted overwhelmingly for change in the last election, as it was with the clear support of Republicans, Democrats and Independents. Sweeping results of that proportion only happen when a community comes together across all lines.
As we mercifully approach the end of this election cycle that no doubt has all of us exhausted, I thought it important to provide some insight into just how Representative Justine Caldwell and Senator Bridget Valverde have partnered with the Town Council and School Committee in ways that directly and significantly reduced the tax burden on East Greenwich residents.
First, they successfully championed legislation allowing East Greenwich to bring our tax rates across classes into a more equitable alignment consistent with other well-run communities. This was done with the support of the East Greenwich Chamber of Commerce and allowed the Council to reduce the tax burden on residents. I worked closely with them in this effort and testified in the General Assembly. I saw firsthand the skill with which they successfully worked the legislative process. Most recently, this statutory change allowed the council to fund the schools, avoid proposed school layoffs and avoid school program cuts, while still keeping the residential tax rate increase below 1 percent (which we have done every year). We needed help in the General Assembly on this important tax legislation and they delivered.
Second, Representative Caldwell successfully fought to restore critical school funding cut by the State. I participated in this effort and can say that the grit and diligence that earned her a Ph.D. were evident to all throughout the process. As with the legislative win, this success assisted the council in keeping our residential tax rate increase below 1 percent. We needed help with the State on this important school funding issue and Representative Caldwell delivered.
Third, they are currently assisting the Town Council and the School Committee in addressing the uncertainty around the Maintenance of Effort provisions in state law and the emergency COVID funding requirements for our schools. A successful resolution is necessary to keep our children safe and manage town finances going forward. We need help right now on this issue and they are delivering.
Their partnership with the council on these issues has meant significant dollars for our community that directly impacted the ability of the Town Council to lessen the tax burden on East Greenwich residents, while restoring funding to the schools, rebuilding our government, addressing five union contracts, resolving over 50 inherited litigation matters, cutting union retirement obligations (OPEB) by millions of dollars, navigating a ransomware attack (no ransom paid), passing responsible budgets and working through the fiscal crisis brought on by the pandemic.
While we do not always agree on every issue (same with all prior representatives), they have proven to be great assets to our Town Council and our community. When we needed them on these important issues directly impacting our taxes, budgets and services, they delivered. As a practical matter, voting for the alternatives would mean sending representatives to the General Assembly who would be in an extremely small minority with a very limited ability to truly help East Greenwich.
If you share my goals and priorities and want to best empower the Town Council to continue its work on behalf of our community, I urge you to join me in voting to re-elect Representative Caldwell and Senator Valverde.
Stay safe and sane. . . .
Mike Donegan is the vice president of the East Greenwich Town Council and is running for re-election for his second term.