Three Losers In Proposed 2013 Budget
The budget now under discussion eliminates the Main Street Coordinator position and reduces money to the EG Animal Protection League and the Teen Center.
Town Manager Bill Sequino’s 2013 budget proposal comes in $3 million higher than the 2012 budget, thanks largely to a $2.1 million increase in debt service. But there are some cuts.
Under the plan, the Main Street Coordinator position — currently held by Bruce MacGunnigle — would disappear. It is a half-time position; MacGunnigle’s half-time job in the Town Clerk’s office would continue.
As Main Street Coordinator, MacGunnigle has organized the Main Street Strolls, which happen to resume this Thursday. He has also worked with the Downtown Planning Initiative, which is in the process of becoming the nonprofit Main Street Association.
MacGunnigle is all right about the prospect of losing his part-time job. “After 33 strolls and 7-plus years, I’m ready to step back,” he said. As for the Main Street Strolls, two will take place under his watch. Beyond that, MacGunnigle said, the EG Chamber of Commerce, together with its new partner, the Main Street Merchants, will pick them up.
The 2013 budget proposal also has a cut to “Teen Center” line item, which would drop from $9,000 to $7,500. The Teen Center is more than Friday nights at the gym at Eldredge, according Bob Houghtaling, the town’s drug counselor. He uses the money for outings as well as the occasional pizza night.
That money also paid for Houghtaling’s Magical History Tours last summer, where he shepherded small groups of teens to historical sites such as the Gilbert Stuart Birthplace and Touro Synagogue.
“Would I like more, yeah. Could I use more, yeah,” said Houghtaling. But, he said, he’ll cope if the budget cut stands. “I guess what this means, I guess it means I just have to be a little bit more creative.”
The East Greenwich Animal Protection League is one of only two outside organizations that retained funding in the current-year budget — the Town Council cut out grants and contributions to 12 additional nonprofits (including the Visiting Nurses Association of Care New England and R.I. Meals on Wheels) last year at this time.
Summer’s End was the other nonprofit to remain in the budget last year. In the 2013 budget proposal, Summer’s End (which puts on a late-summer outdoor concert among other things) would receive $5,000, the same amount it got this year.
The EGAPL would receive $15,000, a decrease of $4,000 from 2012. The EGAPL is a nonprofit, no-kill shelter. It takes in cats and dogs in need of homes. Some of those animals are from East Greenwich and some are from other areas, including out of state.
Right now, if a stray animal is picked up by the EG Animal Control Officer, it is taken to North Kingstown Animal Hospital for up to three nights. Pet owners must pick up the tab when they come to collect their pet. If, however, no one claims it, it would be turned over to the EGAPL, which boards its animals at Greenwich Bay Animal Hospital on Post Road.
EGAPL president Tammy Flanagan told the Town Council at its meeting Tuesday that the organization spends about $100,000 a year providing shelter and care for dogs and cats. The rest of its funding comes from fundraisers and private donations.
The Town Council takes up the budget again Monday evening at 7:30 at Swift Community Center. By town charter, the Council must vote on a budget by May 15.