Bill Seeks to Restore Financial Control to Town Councils

Legislation calls for city or town council approved of collective bargaining agreements and employment contracts with school committees.

Some of the powers of town councils to control budgets and town spending may be restored if a bill introduced by State Rep. Patricia Morgan (R – Coventry, Warwick, West Warwick) passes muster in the General Assembly.

Hearings on H-5342 which would repeal the so-called “Caruolo Act” took place on Tuesday at the State House. 

The Caruolo Act, originally enacted in 1995, allows local school committees to sue their municipalities for additional funds in budget or funding disputes.

Proponents of repeal maintain that municipal finances cannot be fully managed with School Committees retaining full control over budgets, charging that such control enables school boards to avoid tough budget decisions. Opponents of the measure fear town council involvement in school financing matters.

The new legislation calls for city or town council ratification of collective bargaining agreements and employment contracts with school committees. It would restore the Commissioner of Education as the arbiter of town council-school committee disputes on other matters.

“This legislation is a modest and very reasonable solution to the conflict many of our school committees and town councils are experiencing,” said Morgan.

“It places responsibility for final decisions on municipal finances on the body responsible for raising the funds, while school committees and boards retain great latitude in collective bargaining and employee negotiations.

“It’s a win-win for all involved, and enactment will go a long way toward improving relationships between our school committees and city and town councils,” she said.


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