I must take issue with the false representations of Councilman Robert Ferri in the Cranston Herald two weeks ago and his misleading statements on the Council floor during the …
I must take issue with the false representations of Councilman Robert Ferri in the Cranston Herald two weeks ago and his misleading statements on the Council floor during the deliberations of Cranston’s capital budget. Mr. Ferri demonstrates a fundamental lack of understanding of public finance.
The Councilman did his best to scuttle the Knightsville renovation project of my administration that is prominently underway for the betterment of this deserving neighborhood. Fortunately, with bi-partisan support, a majority of council members averted his efforts to sabotage this worthwhile effort. When done, the renovations will be a major boost to the Knightsville neighborhood and business corridor. When residents and visitors come to enjoy our great restaurants and other establishments, they will see a rebirth of this area.
With the joint support and vision of Councilman Christopher Paplauskas, we have the first phase of the gazebo area well underway. The residents of Knightsville deserve this and for Mr. Ferri to thumb his nose at them and later weakly try and defend his misguided actions is terrible.
Yes, there will be a cost to taxpayers through the bond financing of such needed capital projects like our schools, drainage repairs and street paving. Mr. Ferri totaled our recent capital expenditure plans which are largely school related and intentionally failed to mention that the state Department of Education will reimburse Cranston up to 70% of our school construction costs.
The Councilman also fails to highlight the nearly $1.4 million in grants for Knightsville we have received thus far with the cooperation of our state and federal partners who clearly recognize the value of this special undertaking.
Mr. Ferri attempted to raise false alarms with misleading assertions that this project would cost $8 million to the city. This claim is reckless and unfounded.
Mr, Ferri’s rants about interest rates have no corollary to tax exempt financing in today’s bond markets. My finance team and our fiscal advisor carefully manage our debt service and our ability to finance and meet our crucial obligations to bond holders as a portion of our overall budget.
The Fitch rating agency last year commended the management of our long-term liability burden for debt and our pension liabilities. Fitch officials reaffirmed our Cranston's AA+ bond rating recognizing our strong fiscal record and management.
For us to complete Phase 2 of the Knightsville project, it had to be included in the capital improvement program I proposed to the City Council. While in the past, administrations have chosen not to make similar investments in our infrastructure, I choose to bring forward projects like the Rolfe Square and Pawtuxet Village upgrades.
Thanks to support from a majority of our city council members, I am thrilled this project is coming to life as we approach the summer months. I look forward to seeing the park grow as a destination and gathering spot for generations of Knightsville residents and their families.
Kenneth J. Hopkins
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