Bankruptcy Still An Option In Woonsocket

Despite last night's vote to raise taxes 13 percent in Woonsocket, the city could still go bankrupt.     

That double digit hike would translate into the average homeowner paying hundreds of dollars more in taxes by the end of June.

The first one, the General Assembly still has to pass the increase for it to go into effect. And even if it goes through, it doesn't mean everyone in Woonsocket will be able to afford to pay the taxes.   

Ann and Roger Rossato have owned their Woonsocket home for fifty years. They're on a fixed income, and frankly they're scared about affording more taxes.

“It hurts,” said Ann Rossato, “We can't raise tenants rents because they're all old people. Everybody is on fixed incomes, so we have to bite the bullet again.”

If the supplemental tax increase goes through, they'll have to come up with 600 dollars to pay the city, which Mayor Leo Fontaine admits is impossible for almost half the people living here.

“Understanding that some will not be able to pay, some may not be able to pay that quickly, so we factored that into the collection rate,” said Mayor Fontaine.

He's only expecting 67-percent to pay, and even if they all do it might not save the city from bankruptcy. “There are still other pieces that need to fall into place, that really need to before we can say we're completely out of the water,” said Fontaine.

The mayor is trying to convince retirees to take pension cuts, but even with those and tax hikes school Superintendent Vanna Donoyan said she could still run out of money.

“We're at a five alarm fire right now and even throwing three million dollars is like throwing spit on a five alarm fire,” said Donoyan, “What is that going to do in the long run.”

Speaking of the future, fiscal advisor Gary Sasse said Woonsocket is in big trouble. “People are going to look at the supplemental tax increase, and look at the rate of taxes and probably think there's a better place to do business than Woonsocket, RI,” said Sasse.

Woonsocket is ten million dollars in the hole.