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Portsmouth council to discuss goals, priorities Saturday

PORTSMOUTH – In a rare Saturday meeting, The Town Council will tackle legislative priorities and goal-setting for 2014, and get a school budget forecast from its finance director.

The council will begin the Nov. 23 meeting at 9 a.m. in executive session to interview candidates and select a judge for the town’s newly established municipal court.

The public portion of the meeting will begin at approximately 10 a.m., according to Town Administrator John Klimm.

One item on the agenda is goal-setting for 2014, including goals for Mr. Klimm. They include improving the budgetary process; completing the decision analysis on the broken wind turbine and making a final recommendation to the council on how to resolve the issue; implementing the town’s program to help local residents with wastewater issues; and other goals.

The council will also talk about legislative priorities for 2014. Among the ideas are:

• continuing the town’s strong opposition to tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge.

• seeking state assistance in resolving the wind turbine issue.

• exploring town initiatives to help residents comply with the Cesspool Phaseout Act.

• seeking funding for sidewalks on East Main Road.

• seeking road work on East Main Road that’s been “promised by (the R.I. Department of Transportation) since 2005,” stated the handout included with the agenda item.

• exploring possibilities for a local tax at the Greenleaf Compassionate Care Center, which distributes medicinal marijuana to qualified patients.

• raising concerns about door-to-door deliveries proposed by Greenleaf.

• requiring residents to present identification when voting. “This is a fundamental citizen’s right that should not be thwarted by voter fraud,” stated the handout.

• eliminating the master lever voting option at the polls. “This encourages voters to be better informed by understanding each individual candidate’s position,” stated the handout.

Looming school deficits

Also at Saturday’s meeting, Finance Director David Faucher will present a school budget forecast he had requested that shows future projected deficits. According to a five-year forecast prepared by the School Department, the school budget is expected to run a deficit of over $1.5 million in fiscal year 2016, nearly $3.5 million in 2017 and more than $4.8 million in 2018.

“The purpose of this worksheet is to illustrate the magnitude of possible future School Department deficits for consideration during the next budget process,” Mr. Faucher wrote in a Nov. 20 letter to the council.

The council will also review the progress it made on its 2013 objectives.

The Town Council will hold its regular meeting at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 25, at Town Hall.