Town of Portsmouth

Portsmouth celebrates founding with display of 1638 Compact

Portsmouth Compact (click to enlarge)

Portsmouth's Town Hall was standing room only this morning as citizens gathered to celebrate the town's 378th anniversary with a special viewing of the original Compact, signed by 23 of the town's founders.

The 378-year-old document, which normally resides in the state archives, was on display in the town council chamber. Council Vice President Jim Seveney was on hand to welcome residents and share the council's proclamation marking Founder's Day.

"This kicked off our inaugural Founder's Day event celebrating the history of the town," Seveney told harddeadlines. "It was great to see lots of people there and engaged."

Town historian Jim Garman offered remarks proving the historical context behind the Compact -- one of the oldest surviving.

"it's a very special document," said Garman. "Not too many towns have a founding document still in existence."

Garman outlined the history behind Portsmouth's founding -- how Anne Hutchinson's disagreements with religious leaders in Massachusetts Bay prompted a group to look for a place of their own. Providence's Roger Williams assisted them in buying Aquidneck Island from the Narragansetts for 40 fathoms of white beads and a couple dozen farm tools.

The ceremony was attended by State Rep. Dan Reilly (R-72), and Council members David Gleason and Liz Pedro, and featured live music by harpist Arilyn Mitchell, who also accompanied attendees in the National Anthem.

Garman promised to add more interesting historical info at his lecture on the early days of Portsmouth which will happen this Wednesday at the Portsmouth Public Library from 6:30 to 7:30pm. He advised that there are only 10 seats left, so you'll want to reserve your seat with the library.

Garman also invited attendees to become members of the newly expanded Portsmouth Historical Society, which works to preserve the Town's rich heritage.

Town Council VP Jim Seveney welcomes attendees.
Jim Seveney and Portsmouth Historical Society board member Rich Talipsky (center) talk with Town Historian Jim Garman.
Attendees inspect the original Portsmouth Town Compact of 1638.

02871, Localblogging, Town of Portsmouth, Compact

Portsmouth scores coveted AAA bond rating

logo.pngFor the first time in history, Portsmouth, RI has achieved the highly acclaimed triple-A rating following a review by Standard & Poor's Rating Services on the Town's outstanding general obligation bonds and long-term rating, according to a news release distributed this afternoon by John Klimm, the Town Administrator.

In the release, Town Council President Jim Seveney said, "This is particularly rewarding given the financial challenges we have faced the last few years and is affirmation that the Town is moving in the right direction. The AAA rating reflects our absolute commitment to honor our fiduciary responsibility to our residents and taxpayers and is a reflection of the hard work of our Town and school leaders over the last two years."

S&P credit analyst Timothy Little is quoted as saying, "The stable outlook reflects our view that management will remain proactive and make the necessary adjustments to produce at least balanced operations as it has demonstrated while adding to available general fund reserves." Little goes on to say, "We do not expect to change the rating within the two-year outlook horizon."

"The basis for the rating upgrade was attributed in part to our strong management, financial policies, and our consistent ability to maintain balanced budgets while increasing our fund balance," Klimm said.

the AAA rating is the highest a community can receive, and reflects the Town's sound financial management, according to the release. Only a small percentage of communities throughout the United States have an AAA rating. Portsmouth becomes only the second RI community to obtain an AAA rating. In nearby Massachusetts, only 29 of the 351 communities have an AAA rating.

A Triple-A rating has a direct and positive impact on the Town's residents. Funds borrowed carry a much lower interest rate due to the AAA rating. Jim Lathrop, the Town's Finance Director, said, "This is Portsmouth's financial report card, and it is nothing but A's. It is gratifying to work for a community that takes its financial health seriously."

Editorial note: Written (with glee) from a press release.

02871, Localblogging, Town of Portsmouth, Town Council

Portsmouth seeks citizen input on revenue options

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 11.44.55 AM.pngAccording to a post on the town web site, Portsmouth is soliciting resident input on ideas for revenue sources to offset the town's extensive reliance on property taxes. Here's the lead in from the quick, four-question survey.

Portsmouth is a great place to live, but our FY15 budget (7/1/14 – 6/30/15) is funded 85% by property taxes. Most other RI municipalities are at 75%, with 25% coming from fee-for-service revenues. Clearly, other revenue sources need to be explored, such as charging increased (or new) fees for certain services.We need new revenue solutions, as well as continuing the cost cutting measures already started, to keep our economic future bright. 

How do user fees differ from a tax? There are two important distinctions. A fee approach provides residents an option to pay, or do without the service, while Increasing property taxes offers no option… lean times or good, you have to pay. Secondly, the cost of services are borne by the actual users, not subsidized by non-users.

This survey asks your opinion on some potential user fees under consideration.

If you have a few minutes, why not pop on over to the survey and offer your thoughts.

02871, Localblogging, Town of Portsmouth

Portsmouth issues RFP to manage Melville Campground

Click to embiggen. Image: Town web site

The Town of Portsmouth, RI, has issued an RFP for vendors to manage their 153-acre, 123-site campground, located within the Melville Recreation Area, according to documents posted on the town web site. A pre-proposal meeting is set for September 10, and the deadline for bids is October 3.

As described in the Town's RFP, the Melville Pond Campground is located on the west side of Portsmouth, and features a nine-pond waterway, hardwood and pine forest, substantial marsh areas and hiking trails leading to the Narragansett Bay. Melville Campground currently is open Apri1 1 to November 1. The campground contains 123 sites, of which 32 have water, electric, and sewer hook ups for RVs, 34 have water and electric for RVs. Campground includes camp office and store, pavilion, and a single family home that will be available to vendor year round.

The Campground has yearly gross revenues of about $220k, according to Town documents, and has operated in the black in 4 out of the last 5 years. Among the key criteria identified in the RFP is "an Operations Plan that clearly demonstrates the proposer’s plan to provide services and maintain facilities including a capital plan."

Read the full RFP on the Town web site,

02871, Localblogging, Town of Portsmouth, Melville Campground