As 2021 ends and we begin 2022 I write to the citizens of North Kingstown to report on what their town government did in 2021 and what citizens can expect in 2022.  

Before I start however, I want to first recognize our town government staff, town manager, and first responders for their dedication to our community during these challenging times.

I can tell you from firsthand experience that their dedication to their jobs and our community kept our community as safe as possible during this pandemic while keeping town government open and providing needed government services. This is best exemplified by the fact that our firefighter department is one of, if not the only municipality in our state that has 100% of its employees vaccinated. Thank you town employees.  

As for the town council, 2021 highlights include passing a responsible budget that fully funds our schools; authorizing construction renovations for our vacant town hall; authorizing major renovations for our beach campus and Wilson Park splashpad playground projects; voting to redevelop Wickford Elementary School; and enacting a new homestead exemption that will lessen the potential adverse impact from revaluation, just to name a few accomplishments.  

The council also worked in a bipartisan fashion to address the unacceptable allegations about “fat tests” in our high school by unanimously agreeing to hire outside council to review the findings of the school committee and the Attorney General. As previously stated, the purpose of this hiring is to ensure that our community at large will have confidence that they know all of the facts about what happened.   

This council was also eager to hear public input when its members attended the “Smart Growth” public workshop put on by our Economic Development Advisory Board. Additionally, we negotiated several payment in-lieu of tax agreements with the private businesses in Quonset that will increase tax revenue to the town, and we aggressively lobbied the state department of transportation on several potential projects, including sidewalks for Post Road and West Main Street.

These decisions, coupled with decisions of prior town councils, town staff, the school committee, and school departments has cumulatively resulted in 5 consecutive balanced budgets with a cumlative surplus of over $14 million and a AA+ bond rating. It has also resulted in one of the highest performing school systems in the state. Not only that, this year we were also voted as having the best water in southern Rhode Island.  

2022 promises to be just as active and exciting. Early on we will continue to do what we need to do to keep our community safe from COVID; analyze the results of a vulnerability assessment from climate change; decide how to invest the federal “American Rescue” funds allocated to our town; hopefully authorize additional playground improvements at both Yorktown and McGinn parks; analyze a possible new recreation center; and possibly put on the ballot a new public safety proposal for the electorate to vote on.

We will also complete our town hall renovation project so that we can finally utilize the facility, and private projects at the former Wickford Elementary School and apartment complex near the train station are both posed to break ground in 2022. Clearly, a lot of positive developments are occurring in NK.  

In closing, I believe that the decisions that this town council and town government staff made in 2021 have truly improved the lives of the citizens of our community during this difficult time. I have every confidence we will continue to make a positive contribution in 2022. We certainly welcome your input in doing so, because we are all in this together, and together we will continue to make our community a great place to live. Go NK!

Gregory Mancini

North Kingstown

The author is the President  of the North Kingstown Town Council.

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