To the Editor:
Good news for Johnston taxpayers, we now have a new Republican Town Committee. As a true Conservative Republican I will encourage the committee to reach out to every resident to inform them how our taxes are being squandered/wasted/misspent.
How can it be new businesses continue to come to town, including new housing developments, but our taxes never come down? How can it be in 2013 the budget was $90.7 million and last year it was $113.7 million, a $23 million increase in just 7 years?
The truth is the revenues are going to meet the unsustainable inflationary pension obligations and endless inflationary benefits of our town workers that never should have been. When residents realize the endless provisions in the contracts they will only have to blame the democratic machine that has been in charge for decades as the party and the unions are one in the same. Yes, we all have family, friends and neighbors in civil service but the truth is the more cost effectively we provide our services the better off “all the people” will be.
Some alternatives that would reduce our taxes substantially would be regionalizing our services, especially regarding fire and police, in which the combined overtime for minimum staffing is in the hundreds of thousands annually. We could also develop a voluntary paid certified standby system that would produce additional savings. We should also consider privatization where applicable. As for wages, it’s the outrageous benefits and pension obligations that need to be reduced substantially perhaps via filing bankruptcy.
If we were to only provide benefits that reflect 90 percent of the non-union workforce the savings would be in the millions annually.
Here are just some of the provisions across the contracts that need to be reduced substantially or eliminated: longevity bonuses, anniversary bonuses and police receiving $500 for every firearm issued to them if they score an 80 percent at the firing range. Some Longevity Bonuses are over $9,000.
Severance Packages include up to 64 unused vacation days, 180 unused sick days and up to 6 unused personal days. As for the 20 sick days and 3 personal days, they should be combined to one week in which employees should contribute to temporary disability Insurance. Of the 20 sick days, if an employee uses less than 10 they receive a one day bonus, and if they use less than 6 they get a 3 day bonus. We also provide up to 15 holidays that include paid birthdays.
Pensions that we contribute up to 12 percent are calculated based on what was averaged over their three highest earning years. As for fire and police, the average pension is $5,200 a month after only 20 years, in which we now have more retirees than present employees.
We also provide a $250,000 accidental death policy in addition to life insurance policies that range from $35,000 to $75,000 that they keep upon retirement. Another provision is if they work 15 minutes overtime we must pay them a full hour at time and one half.
As for education, the cost per Johnston pupil is approximately $20,000, in which private education and especially religious education are thousands less and more effective. Realizing the incredible liberal nonsense going on in public education, via sex education, outrageous social engineering and the continued dummying down of academics, school choice/vouchers could save additional millions annually.
If our town was to develop a database that would breakdown the budgets for each department highlighting the cost of the endless provisions in which residents could type in any questions, like what’s the cost to provide healthcare for retirees, how much are the healthcare plans, how many sick days were paid out and view the severance packages and pensions etc., taxpayers would be outraged as we don’t even televise the committee meetings.
The provisions I outlined are just a sampling of where millions are going annually. Our municipalities must demand autonomy in how they provide their services including school choice. Conservative leadership, which you will not find in the Democratic Party, would be a blessing to all Rhode Islanders.
In closing, the new Republican Town Committee has their work cut out for them. Going directly door to door and emphasizing the benefits of the above will we hopefully wake up the sleeping giant of voter apathy, which is approximately 40 percent in our state.
The wheels of ever increasing taxation were put in place decades ago via the Democratic Party that now enslaves every taxpayer, especially those on limited incomes, as our children and future generations will be nothing more than cash cows. Life-long well intentioned Democrats need to realize the party has been taken over by extremists that seek to undermine people of faith, moral absolutes, commonsense, free enterprise including free speech, etc.
Peter A. Filippi III