The Town Council of the Town of Tiverton, County and State aforesaid held a Special Council Meeting on

Thursday, May 21, 2020 at 7:00 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.



    Members present

Council President Hilton

Councilor Perry

Council Edwards

Vice-President deMedeiros

Councilor Clarke

Town Clerk Mello

Councilor Cook

Councilor Driggs

Solicitor Marcello


Town Administrator Cotta

Deputy Clerk Veegh




A. Update on status of Tiverton Casino gaming revenue for fiscal year 2020

Administrator Cotta began discussion noting that a recent meeting with the Lottery commission revealed their opinion that the guarantee no longer holds per two provisions that required the he facility be open for the entire fiscal year and that games had to be offered, thereby believing the guarantee was no longer valid.


Solicitor Marcello acknowledged that the RI Lottery Commission’s legal counsel, was of the position that the remaining payment would not be forth coming based on their interpretation of the statute, which required that the casino be open continuously and the games available. He affirmed there was a post legal discussion that would be discussed in executive session, and that a formal letter indicating the Casino’s position was requested. He furthered that a call to the Governor’s office confirmed that the position was unlikely to change.     


Councilor deMedeiros expressed concern that further discussion should be continued in executive session, whereas the Solicitor assured her strategic discussion would be held for executive session.


President Hilton noted the importance of disclosing that the amount of casino revenue in jeopardy was approximately 1.8 million, and that out legislative delegation had been tasked for assistance.  


Administrator Cotta asked Councilor Cook to read a portion of the attached emailed letter sent to the Council on Thursday, May 14, that detailed the meeting that took place on May 13 with himself, Solicitor Marcello, Lottery Director Gerald Aubin and his legal counsel, and State Representative Jay Edwards.


Councilor deMedeiros left the meeting.  


B. Discussion and vote of potential corrective action plan/options of Town Administrator to address
     possible fiscal shortfall in FY 2020 budget including but not limited to:

     1. Administrator/Treasurer revenue update FY2020  

Administrator Cotta referenced a spreadsheet indicating that although tax collections were on target, shortfalls in educational aid and details were rendering an approximate $930 thousand deficit on revenues. Cotta noted some concern of additional underage on rescue billing.


     2. General Fund

Treasurer Saurette updated Council noting that the unassigned general fund balance as of the June 30 audit was $3,319,000. She added that projections based on what we think is happening now, coupled with what was committed for the FY 20 budget, indicated another $1.54 million available to backfill any shortages.   


     3. Town Administrator’s actions/recommendations for cost savings

     4. Discretionary spending

Administrator Cotta detailed a number of internal measures being used to mitigate expenditures including the freezing of every vacant positions, the cessation of all capital equipment and departmental discretionary spending. He furthered that there may be additional salary account and insurance savings. 

     5. Employee staffing

Administrator Cotta noted that he has had meetings with department heads asking that they warn their unions that additional budget cutting measures may be necessary including layoffs or furloughs. He added that he was open to alternative ideas from the unions and that this was a good faith measure to disclose the approaching financial difficulties.


     6. Other recommendations/options as offered by councilors

Administrator Cotta offered that he welcomed suggestions or ideas from the Council, encouraging them to call or email him at any time. Councilor Clarke asked if there was further measures to delay landfill capping or transfer station, to which President Hilton answered would be discussed at the next meeting with input from Pare Engineering.

President Hilton offered that unless something changes with federal monies, or the general assembly and legislation are able to address the casino shortfall, we must be prepared to expect continued fiscal cuts. She expressed disappointment that the casino revenue monies had not been included in the general fund adding that 3% is not an acceptable standard for municipal government, noting other communities have a 10% minimum rainy day funds. Treasurer Saurette furthered that other municipal reserves are as high as 14-15%. Councilor Driggs noted that she was not aware that the auditors have ever warned that the 3% reserve was insufficient.


C. Request for a joint meeting with Tiverton School Committee to discuss on-going school and municipal
     finances for current fiscal (FY20) and upcoming fiscal year (FY21)


President Hilton noted that while budgets were turned in per the Charter, believed a joint collaborative meeting with the School Committee would be beneficial in light of the postponed FTR. Councilor Edwards agreed, especially due to the municipal side requirement to shoulder the burden of School Department funding increases. Clerk Mello was tasked to coordinate a future joint Zoom meeting.


Councilor Edwards motioned to enter executive session pursuant to 42-46-5(a)(2) Litigation strategy and legal options related to withholding of minimum revenue payment from Casino. Seconded by Councilors Perry and Driggs. The motion passed unanimously by roll call vote.


The Council entered Executive Session at approximately 8:00 p.m.


Executive Session portion of the meeting was off YouTube. Video tech Andrew Rys was monitoring and will resume live streaming when Council returns to Open Session.




Town Solicitor - 42-46-5(a)(2) Litigation strategy and legal options related to withholding of minimum revenue payment from Casino

The Council returned to Open Session at 8:20 p.m.


Councilor Edwards motioned to seal the minutes of executive session. Seconded by Councilor Perry, motion passed unanimously.


Solicitor Marcello disclosed the discussion held in executive session regarding litigation strategy and legal options related to withholding of Casino revenue payment is premature to discuss at this time and could jeopardize the legal strategy.   




Councilor Edwards motioned to adjourn the meeting. Councilor Perry seconded the motion.  The motion passed unanimously. The meeting adjourned at 8:25 p.m.


A True Copy.



                 Nancy L. Mello, Town Clerk


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