The Town Council of the Town of Tiverton, County and State aforesaid held a Special Council Meeting on Wednesday, August 5, 2020 at 7:00 p.m. via a Virtual Meeting viewable at Tiverton Videos on YouTube.





Council President Hilton called the meeting to order with the pledge of allegiance to the flag.




Council President Hilton

Vice-President deMedeiros

Councilor Clarke

Councilor Cook

Councilor Driggs

Councilor Edwards

Councilor Perry




Acting Town Administrator Chris Cotta, Town Clerk Mello, and Deputy Clerk Veegh were also present.




A. Council President Hilton - Discussion and possible vote on proposed ordinance to restrict and/or allocate casino revenue received pursuant to RIGL 42-61.2-7


Council President gave introduction and explanation as to purpose and need for the ordinance. Realizes controversial and was put forth as Charter question in 2018 to restrict for capital and debt service.  The vote failed by 13 votes.  Respect vote but need to learn by mistakes.  At time Twin River was marketing, kept hearing 3 million guarantee.  There was no contract only State law through the General Assembly.  If casino didn’t generate the 3 million, idea was the State would make up the difference.


Lincoln had no problem since they make 7/8 million a year. Tiverton now has 20 months of data.  Consistent, straight take 1.8 million per year.  State needs pay approximately 1.2 million. This would have been first full year.  Covid came, State and Dept of Health closed Tiverton casino. State believes we are not entitled and do not feel they need to pay.  Solicitor does not agree and will be pursuing in court but that will take a long time.


Meantime 3 million was put in the operating budget creating fiscal crisis this year.  Administrator Cotta diligent put hold an all spending to finish this fiscal year and not be in deficit.  That leaves a big hole in budget for next year.  Highly likely State will take same position this year regarding 3 million guarantees.  Same interpretation on language.  Our take now incredible small.  Tables normally generate 4 to 5 thousand a week.  So far this year about 2k per week.  Not open 24/7 and has attendance limited.


Councilor Hilton continued; Tiverton budget process troubling.  Only municipality in the State that allows alternate budget to change revenue numbers. Budget Committee struggling to get below 4% tax cap due to missing 3 million revenue.  Anyone beyond them can put budget with any revenue amount and if that budget were to pass, we would be in desperate financial shape.  Municipal side would need to absorb all the shortfall.  State law requires once municipality accepts budget, school portion cannot change from shortage of state or local revenue. Protecting Town’s best interest.  At least for this year, safest thing.


Councilor Driggs stated concerned with whole process.  Spoke to Administrator Almond in Lincoln and they don’t allocate or budget casino revenue in fiscal year they receive.  Goes in coffers and allocate next fiscal year instead of counting on something do not have. They also get pro rata.  If closed get pro rata days open. Concern taking a huge chunk of revenue under Charter and moving from normal budget process.  Violates B/C responsibility to review all revenue and come up with budget. Feels should have been workshop, hearing info first time.


Council President responded the process was reviewed by the Solicitor and Council has the right to set restricted account, legal. This is a new ordinance, can be changed.  We did not hold casino revenue for one year, we put right in general fund.  That would not solve this year’s problem.  Council knows money may not be there, nothing to stop alternate budget from using.  Agree B/C should make decisions on money for capital, but they will not be seated at that time.


Councilor Cook concerned how quickly being done, not vetted properly.  Not many town people participating, only one response and 5 in waiting room.  Needs more participation.  General Assembly law not clear.


Councilor Edwards questioned section “C “regarding restricted account. Council President responded the General Fund minimum balance required is 3%, limited circumstances can go under.  Should that happen if get any casino money, first would go to repay the 3%. By Charter if take out needs to be replaced within the year.  After that restricted municipal capital project account where eat least for this year would have some funds for capital since all capital removed from budget.


Councilor deMedeiros state she has been involved from beginning as Council President Council and Chairman of subcommittee, vetted all, on cable Lincoln Town Administrator and Police Chief came before Town.  Huge public hearing at high school auditorium where residents asked several questions.  Lincoln T/A suggested limit to one-time capital and not count on for operating budget.  Had opportunity to do as ordinance or resolution.  After public hearing decided to do as resolution.  No one imagined COVID. Vetted over a year. Capital not in regular budget and will decrease taxes.  Does feel the way it is spent should have everybody input, School Committee, Budget Committee and Council. Very concerned if a budget comes up and give entity extra money not sure where to cut, trash, break contracts, safety issues.


Councilor Clarke questioned how section “e” relating to establishing a procedure for receipt, review, allocation and approval of any proposed municipal capital improvement projects from the restricted capital projects fund would work.  Response was it would be a one-year ordinance and Town Council would try to establish procedures and priorities that could require a 4/5 vote.


Solicitor added, didn’t want to get into too much detail on section “e” to let Council once they see how much money received, might appoint a review committee with the purpose of obligate 3% rainy day fund then to capital and could have Budget Committee involved. Trying to protect the interest of the Town.  Potential there for group to come out and use in revenue with alternate budget.  No limit on revenue.  Council has every right under Charter to exercise fiduciary duty.


Council President opened the hearing to the public.


President Hilton read the one written comment received that was in opposition of the ordinance.  There were 5 members of the public in the meeting room on zoom.  Two residents spoke to the ordinance.


Thor Aakre acknowledged in a dynamic situation.  Generalization of use and control good idea to make up deficit in general fund and capital expenses.  Suggests should be restricted until know the money is in pocket.  Need to accumulate.  Concern with with who controls. Has heard repeatedly ordinance for only one year but not stated.  Unless have a defined termination date, could continue potentially even when casino back on track. Suggests put cap on capital fund, limit type expenditure, repair or replace, not new programs or facilities and big expenditures need say of community. Should cap at 2 million to allow added funds to make up lost revenue. Perhaps designate never spend more than one half received.


Jerry Larkin on his own behalf speaking, good idea.  Gaming funds should not be in operating budget, lot concern would be shortfall.  Important to understand Town people rely on Council good judgement and fiscal responsible.


President Hilton suggests heard some good ideas.  Could expire on 6/30/21 unless extended or otherwise amended by Town Council.  Need separate ordinance with what happens with revenue if passes.


Open to Council.


Councilor Driggs agreed some good ideas but doesn’t feel it is ready for prime time.


Councilor Driggs motioned to continue the public hearing for two weeks.  Seconded by Councilor Cook.  No discussion. Motion failed by roll call vote 2 to 5.  Councilors Edwards, deMedeiros, Clarke, Perry, Hilton opposed.  Councilors Driggs and Cook in favor.


Councilor Hilton motioned to adopt the proposed ordinance amendment to include an expiration date of 6/30.21.  Seconded by Councilor deMedeiros, motion passed 5 to 2 by roll call vote.  Councilors Driggs and Cook opposed.


Discussion followed regarding use of funds when below 3% in fund reserve and ability to use with true emergency.  Councilor Driggs questioned if any of this is an OMA violation.  Solicitor responded the public hearing notice allows an ordinance can be changed or amended.


Councilor deMedeiros motioned, seconded by Councilor Edwards to add to section “d” after the word account, “Any money transferred into this account cannot be expended until Fiscal Year 2022 with the exception for any emergency need upon a super majority vote (5 out of 7 members) of the Town Council.”  Motion passed 5 to 2 on a roll call vote.  Councilor Driggs and Cook opposed.


At this time, Council President Hilton closed the public hearing.


Councilor deMedeiros motioned to adopt the proposed ordinance concerning the establishment of reserve accounts for funds received from the state pursuant to RIGL 42-61.2-7.  Seconded by Councilor Edwards motion passed 5 to 2 by roll call vote.  Councilor Driggs and Cook opposed.




Councilor Edwards motioned to adjourn.  Seconded by Councilor deMedeiros, motion passed unanimously.


The meeting adjourned at approximately 8:50 p.m.


A True Copy.


ATTEST:   _______________________________

Nancy L. Mello, Town Clerk


Published by ClerkBase
©2024 by Clerkbase. No Claim to Original Government Works.