Central Falls, Rhode Island’s smallest community, has played an outsized role in the state’s ongoing public-finance drama.
The appointment of a state receiver a year and a half ago led to the city’s August bankruptcy filing, which in turn led to Draconian cuts to retiree pensions along with significant rollbacks of city services and the layoff of employees.
Last week, the state receiver, retired R.I. Supreme Court Justice Robert G. Flanders Jr., announced the conclusion of contract talks between the bankrupt city and police, firefighters and municipal workers.
The deal, which includes major employee concessions, could be a template for future negotiations between other distressed communities. In fact, East Providence was just given a state-appointed fiscal overseer to deal with its roughly $10 million in debt, and new contracts may not be far off there, too.
It is important for the state’s leaders – especially Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee – to press local leaders to keep the pressure up to make the structural changes necessary to build sustainable communities. There really are no other options. •