Update & Budget Summary from Town Council member Katie Anderson
The "too long, didn't read" version: We passed a budget that restores funding to our schools and ensures we remain a vibrant, healthy municipality with key enhancements to public safety, infrastructure, transportation for seniors, and more. This modest tax increase - an average of 1.2% over 2 years - helps our town bounce back and stay strong in a post-COVID world. Read on for more detailed updates!
On Monday 4/26, the NK Town Council accomplished the following:
1) We entered into a loan agreement with the RI Infrastructure bank to replace the Gilbert Stuart Rd. Bridge.
2) We updated various ordinances for stop signs and beach parking permits.
3) We awarded contracts for work on Wickford Elementary and Gilbert Stuart Bridge.
4) We awarded entertainment and exhibition licenses for Lafayette Band, Smith's Castle, and Wickford Art Association, as well as a fireworks permit to Quidnessett Country Club and holiday sales license to Therapy Boutique LLC.
5) We extended the State of Emergency, which affords greater flexibility to our small businesses and may allow us access to additional COVID relief funds. This declaration is *not* the same as statewide ordinances on gatherings and other precautions -- all of which continue to relax as vaccination rates increase and incidence rates decline. The Council voiced our intention to begin meeting in person again, and the Town Manager is beginning preparations necessary to accommodate.
6) We approved the budget! Modest year-over-year increases are necessary to keep our town well-managed and moving forward, and to prevent a large increase in any one year. Historically, increases have occurred up to a rate of 2.9% per year. This year's increase of 2.4% follows a year of a 0% increase -- thus, an average of 1.2% over 2 years. This increase will be further offset by the motor vehicle tax exemption.
Our budget includes:
• improvements to public safety: 2 additional police officers, the introduction of a bike patrol, equipment improvement, and the beginning of a four-platoon fire system
• restored funding for our road paving
• a new personnel and HR division
• new playgrounds at Wilson Park, McGinn Park, and town beach
• restoration of public restrooms
• sports field and court repairs
• municipal golf course improvements
• IT projects
• a new bus for the senior center
• seed money for a recreation center and new public safety complex
• funds necessary to maintain top-notch programming and staffing in our schools
NK is a place where my family and I want to live and work because of amenities and services like those listed above. My thanks to our Town Manager and town and school department employees for their tireless efforts in crafting a budget that reflects our priorities while ensuring disciplined, reasonable spending.
7) We appointed Susan Gardiner to the Asset Management Commission, Joseph Gentile to the Building Code Board of Appeals, Steven Alviti to the Economic Development Advisory Board, and Larry Mandel to the Personnel Board. Welcome and thanks to all!