Thursday, January 10, 2013
School, town and law enforcement officials appeared at Tuesday night's school committee, discussing school safety in the wake of the tragedy in Newtown.
The North Kingstown School Committee dedicated part of its Tuesday night meeting to an issue that has been on the minds of parents and students around the country since Dec. 14 – the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. "I don't think there was any community that didn't think Sandy Hook couldn't happen to them," said North Kingstown School Superintendent Phil Auger. Following the deadly shooting in Newtown, CT that left 26 people (20 of them children) dead at the hands of shooter Adam Lanza, North Kingstown school officials have been working to tighten up security at schools across the district. At North Kingstown High School, administrators have restricted access to the building: visitors can now only enter the building through the …
Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Home values are expected to drop following current property revaluations in North Kingstown.
It’s not even 2013 yet and town and school officials are forecasting another tight budget year for fiscal 2014. At their Monday joint night meeting, the North Kingstown Town Council and School Committee saw presentations from both the town manager and school superintendent highlighting the upcoming fiscal year’s forecast. For Town Manager Michael Embury, the upcoming property revaluations could mean a significant drop in property tax revenue for the town. According to Embury, initial estimates are projecting a 10 percent reduction in real estate values. If the 10 percent reduction holds (revaluations are still ongoing, so this figure is subject to change) and the town doesn’t cut anything from last year’s budget (i.e. expenditures remain …
Friday, November 9, 2012
An article from USA TODAY is coming under heavy scrutiny from North Kingstown town officials.
Town officials are criticizing an article published last week in USA TODAY that stated that North Kingstown was ill prepared for Hurricane Sandy, calling the piece “factually inaccurate” and defending the town’s preparedness for flooding. The article, which was featured on the newspaper’s front page on Nov. 1, highlighted communities hit by Hurricane Sandy that have received the lowest ratings from the Federal Emergency Management Agency in terms of flood preparedness. In the article, USA TODAY states that many cities and towns slammed by Sandy have done "little to protect themselves from flood damage, ignoring federal incentives." According to Town Manager Michael Embury, this statement is misleading and “just plain wrong.” “It tries to …
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
According to Town Manager Michael Embury, the new contract will save the town almost $620,000 in the first year.
While contract disputes between the town and firefighters as well as the school department and support professionals have grabbed the headlines, another union in town recently signed its new three-year contract. Local 1033, representing 80 municipal workers in North Kingstown, reached an agreement with town officials this month, which has led to “significant long-term savings,” according to Town Manager Michael Embury. The three-year contract (effective July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2015) is expected to save the town almost $620,000 in the first year, the bulk of that savings coming from $577,435 in sick leave payout. According to Embury, the union's sick leave payout (i.e. unused sick leave that is paid out upon retirement) has been cut in …
Thursday, September 13, 2012
Investigative report Jim Hummel reports on the recently instituted 24-hour for the North Kingstown Fire Department.
The controversial 24-hour work shifts for North Kingstown firefighters just got the Hummel Report treatment. Investigative reporter Jim Hummel, formerly of ABC6-TV, has produced an in-depth piece on the North Kingstown Fire Department's new work schedule which was passed by the North Kingstown Town Council in January by a 3-2 vote. The decision moved firefighters from 10- and 14-hour shifts to a 24-hour shift, reduced the number of platoons from four to three and added 14 hours to firefighters' weekly schedules. According to North Kingstown's fire union (Local 1651) president Ray Furtado, the department is too understaffed – resulting in firefighters working in excess of 24 hours. Town Manager Michael Embury, who also appears in Hummel'…
Friday, September 7, 2012
Town Manager Michael Embury discusses how the current economic climate is changing how municipalities are operated.
Friday, September 7, 2012
As local governments continue to change in these times of fiscal austerity, there are certain comments that always come to the forefront: “I cannot afford any more taxes.” “We cannot continue to raise taxes, government has to change.” “Employee contracts have to change to reduce fixed costs.” “Run government like a business.” Whether you are an elected official, the Superintendent of Schools, Town Manager or the Tax Collection clerk, these comments are heard in communities throughout the country. Municipal bankruptcies in Rhode Island, California, Alabama, Michigan, Pennsylvania and other states are proof that the business model of government has to undergo dramatic change for its long-term sustainability – the current model is not …
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Town Manager Michael Embury pens his first of a series of articles explaining the town budget.
Thursday, June 21, 2012
To the editor, This is the first of several articles to provide readers the facts regarding the fiscal 2012 and recently passed fiscal 2013 budgets. The purpose is to describe what happened in fiscal 2012 and why and what the fiscal 2013 budget means for us all. The first issue is town employee salaries. Over the course of the last four years, salaries have changed as follows (listed by employee group): Police: NOTE: Union agreement to long term structural change moving to two 12 hour shifts versus three 8 hour shifts and 20 percent co-pay for new retirees reduced employee costs by slightly more than $600,000. This was accomplished through negotiation without arbitration. Fire: Local 1033: (Represents…
Thursday, May 24, 2012
Town Manager Michael Embury reacts to Wednesday's ruling on a court case between the town and the fire union.
Thursday, May 24, 2012
It was a bit disappointing to find a news flash regarding this decision and a lack of evaluating a sometimes confusing decision by the Court. The full meaning and effect(s) of the decision are being studied and there will be no changes from the present arrangement. The last lines of the decision are confusing, given the clear holding earlier that the court cannot say what terms of employment prevail once the contract has expired. Here are some of the significant features: 1. Union’s request for an injunction was denied. 2. The ordinance was declared invalid because of the last minute amendment which increased the firefighters’ base salaries by 10 percent. The judge found this to be a substantial change that required two readings, …
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
North Kingstown is switching its curbside recycling service.
Say sayonara to your green and blue recycling bins: North Kingstown is switching its curbside recycling services. The new service will convert from a weekly pickup to biweekly and will also eliminate the separate blue and green bins. Instead, North Kingstowners will have one, 96-gallon bin to throw in all their recycling needs. The North Kingstown Town Council awarded the services bid to Waste Haulers over current providers, Coastal Recycling, opting for an automated service over Coastal’s manual service. North Kingstown pays about $400,000 annually for its current curbside service from Coastal. In the town’s request for bids, Coastal’s bid for its current services jumped to $499,000 – just $3,000 less than Waste Haulers bid which offered …
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
The town manager's proposed budget would preserve town services and cover the school department's $1.7 million request.
North Kingstown’s property taxes will be on the rise again if the town manager’s proposed budget is passed this upcoming spring. Town Manager Michael Embury submitted a preliminary budget for next year that would raise property taxes by 3.5 percent – increasing the town’s overall budget by $2.4 million. The 2013 budget would hike property taxes from $17.26 per thousand to $17.81. With the average price of a home in North Kingstown estimated at $333,822, the tax bill would be $5,942 – according to Embury. Though taxes look to be on the rise again, Embury told members of the North Kingstown Town Council that his proposed budget does not suggest taxing to the maximum amount allowed by state law. According to Embury, North Kingstown’s tax base…