Cash strapped Woonsocket looks for ways to cut costs, save money

By: Melissa Toupin

A ‘work session' was held Monday night at Woonsocket City Hall to discuss charging leagues to play on the cities fields. New fees are on the table as a way to raise money to help maintain the grounds.

“Instead of $12.50 an hour I'd be paying $75 a game, which is a very big increase, so obviously I'm here to voice my concern about that,” said Tommy Brien who works with Eat Woonsocket Little League and runs an annual baseball tournament in town.

The proposal is just one of many ideas the financially struggling city is considering to help cut costs and save money. Adult leagues could be asked to pay upwards to $12,000 a year.

“It would be better for the city if they could generate some revenue from the out of town players that come in and use the fields and cause us expenses,” said Woonsocket Public Works Director Sheila McGauvran.

“Out of town people that want to use our fields are willing to pay, and I think they should pay,” said Woonsocket City Councilor Chris Beauchamp.

City officials admit the savings would be far from a home run. The money recouped would only cover between $35,000 and $40,000 of the $300,000 paid out to maintain the grounds. It's why Woonsocket is also asking its retirees to cut their benefits including giving up their annual increases and moving to Medicare. The mayor warning the retirees that pension funds will run out of money in 10 years.

“Basically trying to stave off any sort of bankruptcy situation so we need to come up with this 5 year plan that's going to make us sustainable,” said Mayor Leo Fontaine.