Town Council tidies up

Sat, 06/25/2022 - 2:30pm
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The Town Council did some end-of year housekeeping at its meeting on June 15. As the fiscal year comes to a close on June 30, Town Finance Director Amy Land led them though what she termed “annual exercises.”
The first was to reassign expenditures that were “unplanned or greater than anticipated.” All of the expenditures are offset by under-expenditures in other areas or departments. The expenses range from processing fees that resulted from the Harbors Department accepting credit cards, to shifting the wages for the director of Public Works from the Highways Department to the Administrative Department.
One expenditure caught the eyes of the council: $90,200 in “capital investments” for the “Chief’s House” at the Coast Guard Station, which was pressed into service for housing for Police Chief Matthew Moynihan. Town Manager Maryanne Crawford said one of the larger expenses in making the building more livable was heating and air conditioning.
First Warden André Boudreau said that he knew that Robbie Gilpin had been working on the roof.
Second Warden Sven Risom asked if the house would be available for an incoming chief of police.
Crawford said it would, but that there was still a lot to do on it.
“I felt like we all knew the work was going on,” said Councilor Keith Stover, “but where was the money coming from? I’m curious about how that works.”
Land said that the work started last summer and the money had come from other parts of the budget. “We’re constantly evaluating whether we have the capacity to absorb [the
cost].”
“I feel like spending $90,000 is a policy conversation we should have had,” said Stover. “That’s my opinion.”
“I agree with Keith one-hundred percent,” said Boudreau. “It was money well spent, but, yeah.”
Everyone seemed to agree that there should have been more transparency, but were pleased with the results, so far.
“I’m so glad we finally got a use out of that building after 25 years,” said Ball, referring to when the town took ownership of the Coast Guard Station complex.
Resident Bill McCombe said: “The question is, is it complete, and if not, let’s allocate those monies to it.”
In the end, the Council approved all of the budget transfers.
When it came to the assignment of capital funds not used in FY 2022 to 2023, Land said: “Again, this is sort of an annual exercise.” She explained that the council would be authorizing holding funds not spent in FY 2022 to be spent on the same items in FY 2023. Except for money for property revaluations, all of the items are in the capital budget.
One of those items is bathrooms for Mansion Beach. Crawford said the project would need R.I. Department of Environmental Management involvement, and “they’ll be here in the fall.”
One last bit of tidying up the books was for the council to approve writing off uncollectible taxes, which amounted to a whopping $693.59 for 2011. Still, looking at the names on the list, Risom questioned why one of them should be written off.
Land said that the amounts were not real estate property taxes, but rather motor vehicle taxes, or, in a couple of cases, intangibles tax. “The state has a mechanism to collect motor vehicles taxes,” and probably had, so it was really just a matter of getting them off the town’s books.
The Town Council also denied an application from the Block Island Lions Club for a Class F Alcoholic Beverage license for the Run Around the Block road race at the Fred Benson Town Beach. Currently no alcohol is allowed on beaches or in town facilities.
“Until we change the policy, we’re going to have to be the Grinches,” said Councilor Mark Emmanuelle.
Crawford said she had talked to Lions Club member Robbie Closter and suggested that after the race, the participants move to another venue where alcohol could be served, such as The Sullivan House.
The Block Island Yacht Club was recently denied a similar request to serve alcohol at an event at Ball O’Brien Park and Ball wondered why groups were going to the trouble of applying when they knew about the town’s policies on alcohol.
Town Clerk Millie McGinnes said she put the request through because the applicant thought there might be some “wiggle room.”
The motion was denied unanimously.