You might hear from your local mayor or town manager that the municipal budget in your community is already cut to the bone and can’t possibly bear another round of aid reductions from the state. The most recent mayor to make this claim is James E. Doyle, of Pawtucket, who was quoted in The Providence Journal last week as saying that “we are now well beyond the fat” and “are cutting into the bone” and even into the “marrow.” Oh, the horror! So what exactly will happen? Laid off firefighters? Police? Closed schools? No winter plowing? Nope, none of that, at least according to the mayor. Here is the fiscal doomsday he has in mind, according to the Journal:
Pawtucket Mayor James E. Doyle said his city might have to close libraries several days a week, pick up trash every other week, cut back on senior services and close City Hall on Fridays. That’s all on the heels of an 8.6-percent tax increase the city needed to offset the last round of state aid cuts.
Of course other mayors said they had already negotiated better deals with employees, laid off workers, and cut back on purchases. Then again, we’re not so sure that’s a bad thing either. As we’ve mentioned before, Rhode Island spends the most of any state on fire protection and is just shy of the top ten spenders for law enforcement. And let’s not forget our most recent Hummel Report showing that Warwick paid out bonuses for unused sick to managers who earn around $100,000 or more. Cut to the bone? The only thing that’s been pushed too far are the doomsday analogies of local mayors and managers.