EG Officials Old & New At Work In "Distressed" Communities
In addition to Town Manager Bill Sequino's role in Woonsocket, former elected official Vince Bradley is now serving on the West Warwick School Committee.
Town Manager Bill Sequino – named last week to head the newly formed Woonsocket Budget Commission – isn't the only person with East Greenwich connections suddenly in the middle of another community's budget crisis.
Longtime EG Town Council and School Committee member Vince Bradley, who moved to West Warwick a few years ago, was appointed to the School Committee there three months ago, to fill a vacancy.
Two years ago, the West Warwick Town Council cut the school budget 5 percent. A ruling on that is still in the courts. The schools used surplus money to fill the gap for two years. This year, there is no surplus money to fill the gap so last week the School Committee cut all sports and other after-school activities.
"It virtually devastated the school system," said Bradley in an interview Tuesday. The Town Council met again Tuesday night to consider its options amid loud protests from residents.
The 89-year-old Bradley served on the Town Council in East Greenwich from the 1980s to 2000, then served on the School Committee, including a stint as chair, from 2002 to 2006.
According to Bradley, West Warwick has spent $800,000 in court battles over school funding. "Meanwhile, textbooks are 12 years old," he said.
As for why West Warwick, which shares a border with East Greenwich, is struggling, Bradley said the town has had more than 400 foreclosures since the economic downturn. Today in West Warwick there are 125 buildings and residences in foreclosure, compared with 38 buildings and residences in East Greenwich.
Sequino said another issue for municipalities like West Warwick and Woonsocket was their reliance on state aid. While East Greenwich got minimal state aid in recent years, those communities depended on state aid for large portions of their budget, he said. With state aid vastly diminished, the West Warwicks and Woonsockets are hurting.
"We don't have any of those issues," said Sequino Tuesday. "It's nowhere near the magnitude" as most of the state.
East Greenwich holds its annual Financial Town Meeting next Tuesday, June 12. With no controversies looming, it seems likely the town's $50.6 million budget will pass by default.
While Sequino and Bradley are new to the "distressed community" scene, there is one East Greenwich resident who's just been relieved of his duties with another such Rhode Island community. Bob Flanders served as receiver for Central Falls from February 2011 until last Friday, when he was replaced by Gov. Lincoln Chafee.