Woonsocket Residents React to Proposed Tax, “We Can’t Afford It”

Monday's public hearing on a proposed supplemental tax, made it clear that the people of Woonsocket are frustrated, angry, and scared.

Frustrated that they're almost out of options to save their city. Angry that they're being asked to pay more out of their pocketbooks. And scared that no-matter what happens, the future of their city, looks bleak.

Hundreds of people packed into the city's middle school to have their voices heard, on a proposed supplemental tax, that could cost every property owner as much 350-dollars.

It's a price that few in Woonsocket want to pay.

“The Woonsocket property taxpayer pays his regular real estate taxes, they pay a sewer assessment, pays trash collection and a water bill, what are the renters paying? NOTHING!!!” said Woonsocket resident Denis Piedmonte.

The public hearing is the last time that residents will have a chance to have their say on the issue, before it's voted on by the city council.

It's a measure that the majority of speakers felt, was one tax, too many.

“The proposed supplemental tax is unfair to the residents of this city, who have already contributed taxes at one of the highest rates in the state.” said Woonsocket's Leann Sennick.

The only other option besides the 13-percent supplemental tax, seems to be bankruptcy and receivership for the city.

It's a decision that's not too popular with residents, or with the city council, but it's the reality that the city is left with, after the school's massive budget gap, left them with few options.

“There's no easy decision so it's a matter of the best way out of a bad situation.” said Woonsocket City Councilor Daniel Gendren.

Woonsocket is really running out of time.

The school department won't be able to make its next scheduled payroll, and even if the supplemental tax is approved by the Woonsocket City Council, at its next regular session on April 2nd, it still has to be approved by the Rhode Island General Assembly, before it can be collected.