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Johnston mayor says state budget impasse impacts community

“People are going to get a bill in the next couple of weeks and say, ‘I thought this was supposed to go down?’” Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena told NBC 10 News on Tuesday. “So, I’m going to put a letter in there saying they need to contact their senator.” (WJAR)

Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena knows when the town’s car tax bills go out.

And he’s going to catch some flak.

“People are going to get a bill in the next couple of weeks and say, ‘I thought this was supposed to go down?’” Polisena told NBC 10 News on Tuesday. “So, I’m going to put a letter in there saying they need to contact their senator.”

Polisena said he’s glad he didn’t send out bills that reflect the decrease in the state budget, which remains in limbo, because he would have had a shortfall. He intends to recoup the car tax money, but schools in Johnston budgeted for additional state aid this year are now short nearly $1 million.

“We’re starting to purchase computers for all the students in the schools, all the grade levels,” the mayor said. “So, we were obviously going to buy computers this year. We can’t buy them.”

Polisena said the same is true for teacher aides that were supposed to be hired -- they won’t be as long as the budget remains unsigned.

In some cases, he said, the budget woes will be amplified. The longer new revenue streams remain untapped, the more money will be missing from the spending plan that passed the House and sits in the Senate.

He said in a meeting Monday with municipal leaders from around the state, the prevailing sentiment was that people understand it’s not their local officials who have thrown the budget into confusion.

“If the mayors have to raise taxes, it’s because of what’s happening with the state budget,” Polisena said. “The public needs to know it’s not the mayors. It’s not the mayors. It’s the people in the General Assembly.”

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