Town Manager Sequino Named To Woonsocket Budget Oversight Panel
He found out at just after 4 Tuesday afternoon that he'd been tapped as a member of a 5-person committee.
East Greenwich Town Manager Bill Sequino has been named one of five members of a budget commission to help Woonsocket deal with urgent financial problems, Governor Lincoln Chafee announced Tuesday.
Director of the Department of Revenue, Rosemary Booth Gallogly, made the appointments.
The commission is the second of three possible steps – fiscal overseer, budget commission, and receiver – of state intervention under the Fiscal Stability Act of 2010.
“Based upon Susanne Greschner’s finding that a budget commission should be appointed for the city, as well as my own familiarity of the current fiscal challenges being faced by Woonsocket, I have determined that the appointment of a budget commission is in the best interests of the city,” said director Booth Gallogly. “Therefore, I have advised Governor Chafee that I am establishing a budget commission for the City of Woonsocket.”
In addition to Sequino, she appointed Peder Schaefer, associate director of the League of Cities and Towns, and Dina Dutremble, a retired school business officer familiar with the financial conditions and operations of the Woonsocket Education Department. By statute, the other two members of the commission will be Mayor Leo Fontaine and City Council President John Ward.
The DOR’s Division of Municipal Finance has been monitoring Woonsocket’s finances over the past two years. The Woonsocket City Council passed a resolution Sunday night urging the state establish a budget commission. Mayor Fontaine made the same request via letter on May 29.
"I think they’ve got to increase cash flow," said Sequino Tuesday night. "As I’m told, they’re going to be out of money in two weeks."
Their first meeting is Friday, Sequino said. While he knew he was being considered for the role – which has no remuneration – he didn't learn he'd been named to the commission until late Tuesday afternoon.
Woonsocket's Ward said he's comfortable with the group that's been selected for the panel, including Sequino. He said Sequino runs East Greenwich well.
Woonwocket City Councilman Albert Brien was not as enthusiastic as Ward. He said he wondered if Sequino and the other members of the commision were able to relate to the people of Woonsocket. "I'm not confident the answer is yes," Brien said.
When asked if he thinks it's ironic that Sequino is serving on the Budget Commission when some have criticized the disparity in state funding between more affluent municipalities such as East Greenwich and urban areas like Woonsocket, Mayor Fontaine said he can see that point.
But, he said, Sequino is someone who has been involved in goverment a long time, with a lot of experience fixing problems. Also, "I think it will draw open his eyes as to the challenges our urban community faces," he said.
Sequino has been town manager in East Greenwich since 1988. The only longer serving town manager in Rhode Island is Steve Alfred in South Kingstown.
"I don’t expect it to interfere with normal town operations," Sequino told the East Greenwich Town Council during their meeting Tuesday night. "I will be available."
Sequino acknowledged he's honored to have been asked, but said, "It's not going to be easy, that's for sure."