Councilman David Carlin: Why I Voted “No” on Newport’s 2024-25 Budget

Recently, I cast the only “NO” vote on the Newport City Council against the city’s 2024-25 budget. Out of respect for the residents of Newport generally, and for my Third Ward constituents in particular, I feel I should explain my no vote.

  1. I was mindful that during the last year or two, the citizens of Newport, like Americans as a whole, have suffered from a high rate of inflation, with some factors rising as high as 30 percent. I am reluctant to increase that burden more than is strictly necessary.
  2. The budget will expand our city bureaucracy in ways that I regard as needless and too expensive. For example:(a) Creating a new and redundant department with the fancy name of Resilience and Sustainability. The cost for this new department? More than $550,000. The explanation for this new department? It’s needed to “oversee a handful of critical departments, streamline the flow of information, improve coordination in City Hall, and allow a lens through which we ensure that every decision this city makes is with an eye towards its future impact.” Shouldn’t the city be doing this already? And isn’t this the job of the city manager? Why the new $550,000?(b) Allocating nearly $150,000 to “facilities and the beach” for additional repairs and maintenance (where? for what purposes? The city has been wrecking the beach lately, not repairing it) and $650,000 into a “resilience and sustainability fund.” (See above questions.)

    (c) Authorizing brand new positions of “communications assistant” at a cost of $100,528 a year, “grant writer” at a cost of $116,207 a year, and “assistant planner” at a cost of $100,757 a year.

  3. The budget gives the School Department nearly one million dollars despite the fact that the ill-run department has a surplus of four million dollars that it is unwilling to dip into—and despite the fact that the department has made no improvement in standardized test scores and little improvement in attendance rates. Newport schools have declined year over year with regard to test scores and are now near the worst in the state. Newport Schools do have much to be proud of (not the least of which are its teachers, staff, students, and parents), but should city taxpayers not expect improvement from the administration when agreeing to more money?
  4. The budget includes a $225,000 per annum salary for the new city manager (plus a moving bonus of $7,500) even though the new manager has no city administrative experience, and even though the previous manager, a man with 37 years of such experience, was paid $36,000 less per year.
  5. Further, the one new position that truly needed to be added to the budget was deputy police chief. Despite being included in the “original” (first approval) budget, the much-needed role was sacrificed for the positions and more that I mentioned previously. This is an unwise act of thrift and a disservice to public safety in Newport.

David R. Carlin III
City Councilor, Third Ward




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