I Voted Against the Budget Because ...

The lone dissenter in the Attleboro City Council's vote on the 2012-13 budget explains his decision.

Attleboro is, in fact, financially better off than the surrounding communities and appropriate accolades are in order for the administration's astute financial stewardship.

Yet, during budget hearings the Attleboro treasurer told the City Council that the tax titles were the highest she has seen in her 15 years in the position. The assessor stated that Attleboro foreclosures were the greatest in number of his career. The building inspector told the council that the 120 vacant buildings in Attleboro is the greatest number in the history of the city. The collector stated her department was processing 30 requests per day for municipal lien certificates. The School Department is transporting 34 more homeless children this year than last for a total of 114 per day.

Yet, the Budget Committee did not want to include these facts in the Budget Message to the mayor for our sons and daughters to refer back to in future years.

The council needed to cut $781,000 from the budget to keep a flat water rate and I recognize that whole number may not be best for the city. However, the water and wastewater departments may be overcharged by the city, which is increasing our water and sewer bills.

A new study multiplies the employee cost by 40 percent to account for the employee fringe benefits which may be overstated, and reports that the director of budget and administration spends 63 percent of his time on these accounts and the mayor spends 35 percent of his time on those accounts. It takes $15,000 in cuts to reduce the water rate one cent.

We would need to cut $78,310 to keep the solid waste rate from rising and $57,200 to prevent a 50-cent increase in the trash bags.

I supported the suggestion of the council's financial analyst for $84,807 in potential cuts, but it was met with stiff opposition. In the end, $13,702 was recommended to be cut. Not enough to cut the water rate one cent.

I think it is best for Attleboro residents to further minimize increases in this economic climate, if not in the water rate then at least the solid waste trash fees. I did not see an earnest effort to do so.

Richard Conti is an at-large representative on the Attleboro City Council. He was the only councilor to vote against the mayor's 2012-13 budget proposal.

attleboroboy June 26, 2012 at 11:57 AM
You right Richard, thanks for trying.
Ken Tenglin June 26, 2012 at 11:59 AM
Good Job Councilor! Thank you for your efforts to control the rising costs to the taxpayers of this city. I hope others will follow your lead in the future.
Michelle Vierra June 26, 2012 at 03:32 PM
The strange thing is... I watched the meetings on TV. Conti was NEVER there! It is amazing that he is so dedicated in his beliefs, yet can't manage to show up to the meetings to gather actual information. I even heard that Conti stormed out of the budget meeting BEFORE budget cuts were discussed. So, clearly he cared enough about the people of Attleboro to stay and try to convince your fellow councilors of what is right. But just like a 3 year old, Conti votes against anything that he can't understand. And he can't understand the budget because he was too lazy to show up for the job. It says something when 100% of the councilors who showed up for budget discussions voted for it. Conti - Do your job! Show up to work! Quit making excuses for your lack of understanding!
Gregg Hannoy June 26, 2012 at 04:05 PM
I agree. Conti was completely absent from almost all of the council budget meetings. As a viewer at home, I attended more meetings than Conti did. For shame. Conti rides a high horse considering that he didn't even show up on time last night when the city council wrote the budget message that he later voted against. If you refuse to be part of the discussion and refuse to present amendments or any other alterations to make something to your liking, then you are not doing your job as a councilor. When he finally showed up, over an hour late, he made sure to vote against everything. Classy.
Jeb June 26, 2012 at 04:46 PM
Michelle – Conti acted the way he did because it was a campaign stunt. If he had attended the meetings or did not storm out of another he could not have pulled off his “no” votes in good conscience. If he participated he might have actually come up with some solutions… that is what a true councilor does – not one who is using his position of councilor as a stepping stone for higher office. Conti was CAMPAIGNING. He knows he could not even cut 15K out of the budget to achieve a ONE CENT savings in the water rate. To keep the water rate the same, he would have had to cut $390,000 according to his calculations. He couldn’t do it so he didn’t show up. Also, his no vote against the $5.68 annual trash fee increase would have amounted to less than TWO CENTS per day. Again, easier to not show up, make a lot of drama about it and just say “no” when the camera is rolling. Mark my words, he will be throwing this stunt back at us in campaign brochures, stump speeches, advertisements and web postings praising HIMSELF for a job well done…
Jerry Chase June 26, 2012 at 06:21 PM
I strongly disagree here with Michelle, Greg, & Jeb. I have to ask if any of these three people have met Richard Conti, talked with him for even a short bit. The truth is that Richard is a highly intelligent, thoughtful person that Attleboro is fortunate to have as a city councilor. I've met a lot of people in my sixty-plus years: Richard is one of the very few that have impressed me. I believe that no one is above criticism. However, I have to ask Michelle, Greg, and Jeb if what they want is total carte blanche to the free-spending mayor. Given the tone of their critiques, I wonder if they think the City would be better off without a city council . . . just let K. Dumas do whatever he wants. Does this sound like a good prescription for what's best for any of you? Who knows better: you or K.D. ?
Eddie Porreca June 26, 2012 at 06:49 PM
I actually met with Councilor Conti at his constituent hours he holds every month (one of only two councilors that offer such easy access, Jay Diliseo being the other) at his office to speak to him about the proposed budget. When I was at his office he was watching the Double ACS DVD of the budget meeting he was unable to attend. Doing the ‘home work’ those claim he does not do. I expressed to him that I was not happy with a rate increase in the trash or the rate increase to water. I asked if there was any way to make reasonable cuts elsewhere to keep the rates flat. He told me he would research this and see what could be done. I spoke to other city councilors about these same concerns. I spoke with Mark Cooper outside City Hall during the budget meeting recess; I spoke very briefly with Brian Kirby at the Attleboro High School Lacrosse Wine tasting event. Additionally, I spoke with my Ward 4 Councilor Jonathan Weydt during various time of the process. Furthermore, by chance, I ran into the Mayor outside of City Hall during a recess of the budget meeting on June 18. I commended him on the tremendous effort put forth by the administration in putting together a budget that for the most part kept the City and its services whole. I thanked him for the clarification he offered in regards to the water and trash rates and how those budget items are created. With all of that being said, I am still not pleased with the increase.
Eddie Porreca June 26, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Sure it is easy to pick on someone from behind your keyboard. But I challenge Michelle, Gregg and Jeb to do more than that. Reach out and talk to your City Councilors and express your concerns. If you are not happy with the job they are doing then don’t vote for them next time around or better yet pull papers and run for the seat yourself. God knows that I do not agree with everything that falls out of mouths of those around the horse shoe, but these folks are part time and do the best they can. One final thought, have any of the 10 taken the initiative to explain why they didn’t vote against it. Even the Budget Chairman was quoted as saying “there are some things in this budget that I don't like”…what are they.
Jeb June 26, 2012 at 07:23 PM
Eddie - I think you can answer your own question. For the same reason you still put gas in your car even when the price goes up, a councilor has to make the difficult decision to vote for something that he or she does not want because it is the RIGHT thing to do and not the EASY thing to do. Do you think they enjoy paying the higher costs themselves??? Just with gas prices, there is no easy fix. Sure, you could just say “no” and refuse to refill and run out of gas which is what would have happened if everyone voted like Conti. Thank god they didn’t. The city cannot afford to shut down and/or defer the costs to next year or the next year or the next year…….. I am proud of the other TEN councilors and the mayor for making the tough decisions. Do you think they raised these rates to improve their re-election chances? No, I don’t think so. Conti took the easy way out so HE could up HIS re-election chances. His behavior was petty, short-sighted and self-serving.
Jonathan Friedman (Editor) June 26, 2012 at 07:37 PM
Sam's comment has been deleted due to being a violation of Patch's terms of use. Please do not use foul language and use your real name, especially if you are going to act like a jerk. I wonder if some of the posters who talk a big game behind a computer would talk that way if he/she had to face the person.
Eddie Porreca June 26, 2012 at 07:59 PM
Jeb, I respect your thoughts and feelings on this matter. It's fine that we don't agree. can politicians be self serving? Sure that's what make them politicians. Do I believe that there comes a time to do the "RIGHT" thing. Yes I do. However, I also believe that the right thing to do is come upon too "EASY". Did the council dig as deep as they could to find a way to keep the budget flat? Perhaps they did. Do I think we should shut down the city? Certainly not! I commended the Mayor Personally for the work that went into the Budget, I still do not have to like all of it. As far as the gas analogy, if I have $50 to fill up for the week, I need to figure out how to manage that $50, I cannot go ask anyone for an increase to cover it. So I either limit my use or make cuts in my budget somewhere else. 91% of the council agreed with the budget enough to vote for it. I suspect that 91% of the voters they represent felt the same way. I would think it is fair to say that you are among that 91%. Great! the system works. I am pleased with most of the budget. I am not happy with the increases of some of the services. I was appreciative of the Mayor for his explanation and appreciative of Conti for his explanation.
Eddie Porreca June 26, 2012 at 08:09 PM
Sam, 1. You are a coward for hiding behind an alias. Reveal yourself...Coward! 2. I am no ones Bitch, obviously you are a jock sniffer for one of the other councilors feeling you need to defend their actions. 3. I will vote for Richard in 2013 and Jonathan Weydt too, I think that they are committed to Attleboro. Hell I may even punch my own ticket someday to make sure I offset moonbats like yourself. Hey Moonbat Sam....come out come out where ever you are!
Gretchen Robinson June 26, 2012 at 08:19 PM
I think everyone should use their real name. What have you got to hide? If you are afraid to use your own name, then maybe you should rethink your comments.... By the way, Jerry Chase, I'm glad to see you using your real name. I had wondered if Jerry was TIsiphone, since we disagree on so much. Is Tizzy still around.
GiGi Grace June 26, 2012 at 09:33 PM
Michelle, You must have your TV tuned to the wrong station. I have copies of the DVDs and Councilor Conti missed just one meeting. How do you define NEVER? Apparently you believe everything you want to hear and choose not to gather facts.
Jeb June 26, 2012 at 11:17 PM
Eddie – I respect your opinion as well. I also don’t like price increases. However, using the gas analogy (again), we are speaking on behalf of ourselves, the consumer. When the price of a product or service goes up, the cost has to be passed onto the consumer. This is of course assuming that the service provider is running at full efficiency. If the service provider is running at full efficiency, then the only good cost cutting will do is diminish or defunct the service. We can debate whether or not the city is running at full efficiency and whether Big Oil is overcharging us another day. Assuming the administration and the city council wants to meet or exceed today’s level of service, an incremental price increase is the tough pill to swallow. TEN councilors, ONE mayor and his STAFF had to ask for that. They hammered it out over the course of weeks. ONE councilor seemed quiet and even absent, late or left early on a few occasions and then said “no.” Just “no” over and over and over again. He then attempts to explain himself in an op-ed piece after the fact. I’m not convinced. He let his colleagues do the heavy lifting, take the hit and then post this campaign propaganda piece to go for the win. NOT cool.
Migsy June 29, 2012 at 01:51 AM
Checks and Balances says the editorial board of the SC. I agree. Ten city councilors ducked their fiscal duty. Where will those on a fixed income, under employed or unemployed get the money to pay the higher taxes we can expect in December and the increased fees for water and rubbish? Surely, the landlords will increase rents to cover their additional expenses. Where will the tenants get the extra money? I am not happy that my tax bill and fees will increase. To those of you who think Conti voted incorrectly - please send me your addresses so I can send you my additional bills.
Jerry Chase June 30, 2012 at 04:57 AM
Jeb says that Conti "let his colleagues do the heavy lifting". No, Jeb; it's infinitely more like the great majority of the Council performs like the ol' Beatles tune, "Taking the easy way out". The mayor makes it easy for those who do his bidding. It's the old "punish your enemies and reward your friends". But he's no Curley or Cianci.


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