Warwick Mayor Opts Out of Mediation
Warwick Mayor Joseph J. Soloman has withdrawn from a mediation process involving city and school officials, at least according to a joint news release. The two sides recently gave competing arguments regarding plans for the upcoming fiscal year. According to those familiar with the situation, a cloud hangs over School Department finances.
Solomon called the news release “grossly inaccurate” and claimed he is still open to resolving disagreements in mediation for the current school budget. He maintains, though, that the two sides did reach a resolution concerning the fiscal year that just ended.
School officials disagree. They claim the outcome of the previous mediation will not work. That mediation resulted in a decision to plug a $4 million budget shortfall with money from their employee pension program.
The ongoing disagreement over whether or not a resolution was reached affected the most recent budget talks and to date, no set school budget for the new fiscal year. School officials are accusing city officials of forcing unprecedented budget cuts and eliminating money for sports and clubs. City officials say that despite the current arrangement, school officials have enough money and shouldn’t need to cut any of their sports or academic programs.
It should be noted that school officials had appeared to agree to the arrangement in a previous mediation, only to later dispute their agreement.
A spokeswoman for Solomon, Courtney Marciano, said the mayor is open to a mediation process that goes beyond the issue of sports and clubs, and that he wants to resolve the matter as quickly as possible.