Happy Grandparents

Senior Services in North Smithfield

Tax Exemptions & Freezes

“Twenty percent of the North Smithfield population is over the age of 65. Many people living in retirement are doing so on a fixed income. For the most vulnerable homeowners in North Smithfield, this means that a significant portion of your fixed yearly income goes to paying property taxes. Every day, I talk with families all over the state who are trying to figure out how to stay in their homes and make it work on $1,700 or less.​


No one is claiming property taxes are unimportant. Everyone who is responsible for paying taxes, should.


AND residents who have lived their lives as integral parts of the North Smithfield community should never have to worry about being 'priced out' of what they've helped build.


My initial proposal is to double the residential tax exemption for qualified NS seniors, from $500 per year to $1,000 per year. That extra $500 might not sound like much, but for some seniors it is literally the difference between having extra food in the fridge and not. I will also want to explore the idea of a property tax freeze for qualified senior homeowners. We already have a tax stabilization program for our seniors, which for some may be enough. 


For some, it isn’t. There are seniors right here in our community with no family to call on, no friends left to help ease their burdens. Government done right leaves no one behind - I sincerely believe that. 


To mitigate the costs - and make sure the programs genuinely are supporting the neediest among us - I will work with the Town Council on developing conditions and qualifications for any adjustments or expansions for senior tax relief we create. I will also advocate for an increase in our commercial real estate tax rate to bring us in line with other towns.


Our community is the work of generations. I believe in a government that is there for all its citizens, but which takes special care to preserve the dignity and quality of life for our most vulnerable.”

Halliwell Community Center

Over 20% of the population of North Smithfield is over the age of 65; however, there is no senior or community center in town to adequately address the needs these residents may have. 


A senior/community center is a critical need for seniors who may be seeking resources for:

  • insurance information (especially Medicare/Medicaid)

  • wellness information

  • blood pressure checks

  • meal services

  • resources for care services

  • recreational activities

  • life enrichment programs (lectures; education; film screenings, etc.)

  • connection to community & neighbors

I support transforming the site of the former Halliwell elementary school and re-purposing it as the Halliwell Community Center. The HCC could be a repository of information, support, and fun for all residents. 


I do not support rehabbing the campus - we closed Halliwell because it was unfit for our children; entertaining the notion of rehabbing it and then opening it for the whole town is not feasible.


As much as I want this project off the ground, the reality of our current financial climate dictates we are looking at starting this project in 2024 at the earliest. We will need to investigate what funding options may be available for us in a post-COVID world - I personally want to avoid a bond. As a member of the School Committee, we used reimbursement programs to great effect when developing capital projects at the high school and elementary school. We should investigate what similar programs may be out there before we even consider a bond.

Senior Service Commission

"While we plan the creation of a community center, it is important to put into place services and systems which can help our seniors today. I will propose the Town Council create a Senior Service commission to promote the senior-focused programs we have in town, as well as available programs in nearby towns which may have transportation available. 

A Senior Service Commission could be comprised of people with experience working with the elderly population, and who can help explain in simple terms the resources available to those who need help. "

Conference

Accessible Government in North Smithfield

21st Century Communication

As Administrator, I will commit to hosting a yearly State of the Town, so that as a community we can confront our challenges and celebrate our victories. I will also continue the tradition of the previous Administrations and carry on with the weekly Town Newsletter.


I do believe in expanding opportunities for people to learn about what is happening in North Smithfield, and so we should explore how to integrate social media into our day-to-day communication. In that, we must also be careful to not let our social media presence be bogged down by trolls and hackers who are only interested in causing trouble for our residents. A strong social media plan will have to be implemented, to ensure residents hear what is going on and have an unmolested say in the conversation.

I also think it is critical for accessibility purposes that our town website is updated to empower residents to find the services they need fast. By speaking with municipal department heads, we can develop a list of 'commonly sought answers' which can then be translated into a drop-down menu or search bar on the NS town website. For example: if someone wants to report a pot hole which needs to be filled in, they should be able to do so with just a few clicks. Little fixes like these can improve public trust and satisfaction with municipal service, while also ensuring we as a town are more proactive than reactive to our residents' needs.

Empowering Civic Involvement

Facebook live can be a very valuable tool, as can Zoom and Google meet. These platforms have proved invaluable during the COVID-19 pandemic and have allowed government business to continue on relatively as normal.


I would like to explore the continued use of these platforms as we move away from the pandemic. I believe that we unintentionally disenfranchised too many people in our town with the way we did things before COVID. If a senior citizen or a single parent was interested in being part of a Town Council meeting in real time, that means they’d have to commit to being in a meeting until at least 10 PM. For many folks in town, the choice would have to be made between civic interest and personal/professional interest. That is not how a 21st century municipality should function.


I would propose keeping all meetings with a live-streaming option, through which audience members could still comment and ask questions. I would also like to explore whether or not we could allow certain volunteer boards and commissions to hold the majority of their meetings virtually, if they so choose. Every year we have difficulty finding people to sit on our boards, although we have no dearth of qualified people. By giving board members the opportunity to conduct their important volunteer work online, I believe we will dramatically expand the pool of potential future leaders.

Straight-talk Government

I am in favor of creating a less confusing budget process by initiating talks with the School Department earlier in the year. By working together throughout the process, the Schools and the Town can have a clearer idea of what the other needs and can do. I will also recommend that the Town Budget process incorporates an easy-to-understand Executive Summary which will be available to residents before the final budget meetings. This will hopefully reduce any confusion related to the budget.

This need for clarity also extends to the impending Revaluation in 2021. Some residents felt caught flat-footed by the 2018 Reval, and so by learning lessons from that process we can improve the next round. 

I will propose that the town create a separate page on its website specifically dedicated to the Revaluation - timelines, guidelines, and frequently asked questions. Questions about depreciation, home value, and home condition can all be addressed at this information hub; anything that cannot be answered will be addressed by designated point persons identified by name on the site. I will also propose that any swing in property value deemed 'significant' - perhaps 5%, or 7.5%+ - would trigger an automatic call from one of the designated point persons to explain the justification for the swing and outline the appeals process for you should you want to appeal.

Communication is so critical for a successful town, and it is vital that we are always up front and honest with our residents.

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Police & Fire in North Smithfield

8 in 30

The North Smithfield Fire & Rescue Service capably serves our town of 12,000-residents, but as our population continues to grow and our footprint includes more housing developments, we need to think about safe staffing. 


Here’s a point of reference: in just the month of June, NSFRS has to call upon other communities 26 times to assist with fire or EMS calls. Almost once/day we needed help from Burrillville, Woonsocket, or Smithfield to keep our residents safe. In 2019, NSFRS received 2823 calls for service; 296 of those were handled by mutual aid. It’s easy to forget just hard how our EMT/Firefighters work but when you consider that the St. Paul station is staffed by 2 firefighters and Providence Pike is staffed by 3, it’s nothing short of miraculous what NSFRS is able to pull off for us.


I recognize that mutual aid is necessary for occasional assistance, but not for a long-term crutch. Our town needs to make sure that as our population grows, we are developing the service standards to meet the oncoming demand. That is why I am proposing that the NSFRS hires 8 new firefighters between now and 2030 (the “8 in 30” plan).

Options for paying for this over the next few years includes: Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Firefighter Grant Program. Last year that program awarded over $300m in grants to fire departments nationwide. Part of my business development platform is to hire a Development Officer to assist with grant writing, and with this much money out there we need to explore how to get what we’re missing. 


We also need to explore what other funding opportunities will be available via state grants or federal agency money (through FEMA or DHS, most likely), and make this a long-term plan with benchmarks being met by the NSFRS. Training, diversity of hires, fiscal responsibility - all will be part of bi-annual reports I will recommend the Fire Chief provide to the Town Council about the challenges and successes of hiring and retaining new EMT/Firefighters. By spreading this plan out over a number of years, we are encouraging smart, stable hiring practices and not a mad rush to reactively fill a gap. This is a proactive look at addressing a future staffing issue today, and make sure that as our town grows we provide seamless, excellent service.

Lease-Purchase Planning

Paul is also recommending that the NSFRS be allowed to improve its readiness stance, by giving the Fire Chief flexibility to explore options to improve and repair the fire & rescue apparatus in town.

This would be accomplished through a Lease-Purchase option, through which NSFRS would work with the leasing company on payment terms for a new apparatus (for example, a fire truck). There is no penalty for early payoff, and the money for the payoff comes only from the NSFRS side of 3rd party billing. 


This is an important tool to have at the Chief’s disposal, and as Administrator I will advocate that the Town Council support the NSFRS’s plans to replace degrading apparatus in a more timely manner than we saw in years past.

NSPD 2025

"A new police station is necessary for the health and safety of our police officers as well as their operational capabilities as our population continues to grow


COVID has also made the need for a new police station more of a complicated conversation. We do not know yet exactly which direction the pandemic will take our public finances; furthermore, we need to consider the bond money leftover which was voted on by the residents of North Smithfield for the future of the station. I believe the next 12 months will make our path clearer, but leaving our police in limbo is not the answer.


Any sort of new building project we would like to take on now is at minimum 18 months before getting off the ground. In the meantime, what do we do about the station? Chief Lafferty has recently pointed out that there are hidden costs to a renovation, driven by the fact the police department never closes. In our rush to save money, we may wind up spending more of it than  we ever originally intended.

We need much more information before we can make a final decision. We need public input and police input on how, not if, we create a new station. 

As I consider the future of the station I am reminded again of Halliwell, and how that campus was plagued by half-measures which were well intentioned but not beneficial for the long term. We need a long term solution for our police officers and for the town. 


I want to see a new police station built by 2025. We need to explore reimbursement programs, grants, and any other options available to us as a town. I believe that this is one of the most critical projects we will face as a town in the next few years, and as a town we need to get our plans in place right now for how to accomplish it." 

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Green North Smithfield

Solar Development

As a member of the School Committee, one of the first votes I took was in support of a solar project agreement with the town. I thought it was a good deal for the district and for the town as a whole. Since that vote in 2016, I have grown increasingly nervous about the encroachment of solar projects throughout our town.

I do not have a problem with solar as an energy source; however, I do not support the clear cutting of our green space to build solar fields. I appreciate that the state has incentivized clear cutting as a way to achieve its solar energy initiative goals - there has to be a better way to be green than cutting down forests to do it.

I would recommend the Town Council impose a 30 to 60 day moratorium on new solar projects, starting from the first meeting of the new municipal government in December. We need time to assess the impact of these various projects, and address any gaps which may be present in our solar ordinance.

As Administrator, I will request the Planning department look at the feasibility of solar canopies in large industrial lots such as the Dowling Village parking lots. These canopies have shown enormous promise in other parts of the country while leaving precious green space intact. We need to get creative to keep the green momentum going in a positive way.

Smart Conservation Growth

North Smithfield is blessed with a huge amount of green space. We have areas for hiking, relaxing, and taking in the beauty of nature. We enjoy this luxurious natural poetry juxtaposed with the ability to quickly travel across state lines for work or pleasure. 

That is just one of the reasons why North Smithfield is a remarkably attractive community, and as new housing & commercial developments arrive in town it is critical we do all we can to preserve the unique character of our beautiful town.

Our Planning department is excellent. The Town Planner understands the value of strategically pursuing new conservation land contiguous with open space we already possess (latest example: the 'Souza' property contiguous with Booth pond). When we have the ability to grow our natural wealth we should jump at it, and as Town Administrator I will work closely with my department heads to preserve our town's rural character and charm.

Parks & Rec

If COVID has taught us anything, it is that staying cooped up in our homes all day gets old fast. Quarantine has ironically illuminated the joy in fresh air and sunshine, and in North Smithfield it is time we revitalize our parks and recreation spaces. 

We should look into using funding from solar projects to roll into a 'Green Revolving Fund' for playground restoration; park maintenance, and historical site preservation. I will ask the Town Council to do all that we can to show pride in the recreation spaces we have and rebuild the spaces children and their families may wish we had in better shape right now.

I also believe that putting concession stands at the High School is critical for public health and also for giving our students the ability to participate more fully in scholastic sports. COVID has revealed anew the critical need for sanitary stations wherever people congregate. Easier access to sanitary bathroom facilities outside will also empower our teachers and students to use the field area for more outdoor classroom programs. We need to explore exactly how this project can be paid for now and then how we project out maintenance and decommissioning costs. I will work with the Planning and Parks departments to develop a sensible plan for a project which is so basic and critical. 

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Schools & Education in North Smithfield

Accomplishments

“As a member of the School Committee, the first thing I learned is the power of a group of passionate people working toward a common goal. Our goal has always been to provide our town with the best possible district, and I’m proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish.

 

We closed the Halliwell School, which had become one of the most unsafe school buildings in the state, and restructured our district as seamlessly as possible.

 

We supported the construction at the HS of new science labs and locker rooms, as well as construction at NSES. 

 

We advocated for the implementation and expansion of CTE and Pathway programs. These programs, such as Business, pre-Engineering, and Allied Health, are designed to prepare students for a 21st century education no matter what post-secondary direction they choose to go.

We advocated for and gave new voice to student extracurriculars such as We the People; DECA, and more. 


We supported and I strongly support a fair teacher contract. I am tired of hearing people disparage our teachers and if COVID has taught us anything, it is that teachers have a much harder job than we all might have originally appreciated. Teachers are critical public servants such as police officers and firefighters, and they should all be treasured by their community.

We have negotiated fair transportation contracts; contracts for the Support Staff who help our buildings run smoothly behind the scenes; created Math & Reading Interventionist roles, and given our district the tools necessary to raise test scores and give the students what they need to thrive. As a member of the School Committee, my single-minded goal has been to provide our students the springboard to leadership and success, and I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish.

Future

“As Town Administrator, I will continue the spirit of collaboration and respect which has defined the past four years of municipal work. I will work with the School Committee and the incoming Town Council to tackle some of the oncoming needs of the district.


We need to plan how to manage the growing burden of out of district tuitions ($751,000 in just tuition last year), which forces our district to pay for the students who elect to leave the NS school district and seek education elsewhere. I am a strong proponent of school choice; however, it is wrong that our students are penalized for nothing more than choosing to stay in town and go to school here. We need to advocate to our state delegation to find a better solution that does not disenfranchise students.


We also need to start planning now as developments like Dowling Village start to be built. Over the past few years there has been a small dip in enrollment; however, we are already rebounding and within a few years may find our buildings stretching at the seams. By working closely with the district now on long-term planning we can avoid rushing to react to the problems we already see on the horizon.


The town needs an Administrator who understands the complexities of the school department. The district is a foundational part of the town and a huge reason why families move here. My experience and my history of working collaboratively with the School Committee and other town bodies will be an invaluable part of my success as Administrator.”

School Reopening

I have been very skeptical about bringing students back to in-person learning. As recently as a few weeks ago I still felt that we weren’t ‘there’ as a district in terms of a re-open. I still am nervous, but the superintendent and his team have worked incredibly hard on providing a safe environment for our students to return. 


Parents and students will still have the option to distance learn, and that option will not be ripped away from them - that helps. Right now, we have 20% of our district signed up for distance learning, and that helps. Now, the state has referred to North Smithfield as a model of how other districts should re-open. I recognize I need to put my own personal fears and doubts aside and support families who need the structure of in-person learning.


Thank you to the whole district for working so hard on these plans. I still don’t think we are ready for the full population to go into our buildings, but the NS hybrid model is a good first step. Please click below to learn more about our district's re-opening plans.

Facts About Paul

  • Small Business Owner (the Care Concierge of New England)

  • Member, Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce; Central Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce; Milford Area Chamber of Commerce

  • Years of managerial experience working in the healthcare space; specializing in Elder Care

  • Certified Dementia Practitioner, further exemplifying focus on public health and elder care issues

  • Graduated magna cum laude from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy with a Masters of Science in Emergency Management

  • Graduated cum laude from Suffolk University with a Bachelor of Science in Political Science

  • Winner, Human Rights Award 2004; Newton, MA

  • Former Member, International Association of Emergency Managers, Region I (New England)

  • Former Member, Community Emergency Response Team, North Smithfield

  • Member, American Red Cross; Rhode Island Chapter

  • Trustee, North Smithfield Public Library

  • Member, North Smithfield School Committee

As a member of the North Smithfield School Committee, Paul has helped oversee:

  • Successful contract negotiations between School Department and Teacher's Union

  • The closing of the Halliwell School

  • Continued support and growth of the North Smithfield Pathways Programs

  • Continued support and growth of the North Smithfield CTE Programs

  • Budget Negotiations between town and School Department to create a strong, viable, fiscally responsible school system

Jones for North Smithfield - On the Issues

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Education & Schools

North Smithfield is a community famous for its amazing schools. As a four-year member of the School Committee, Paul Jones has been part of some monumental decisions regarding education in North Smithfield. As we recover from the onset of COVID, Paul will continue to support the terrific work of our district team, teachers, and students.

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Green North Smithfield

It is critically important we take care of the land we have. We are blessed with a number of beautiful open space and historical treasures and it is vital that we as a community work to support the preservation of both.

Open For Business

Business Friendly NS

Paul believes that North Smithfield is equipped with the natural tools and gifts necessary for a robust commercial base. These are some ideas he will advocate for to build a better business environment for our town.

Cheerful Seniors

Senior Services

Paul Jones is a healthcare professional specializing in senior care & services. He is the owner of a senior-focused company, the Care Concierge of New England, and will use his expertise to create a better quality of life for North Smithfield seniors.

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Police & Fire

North Smithfield has terrific public servants who do great things for the community. As the world emerges from the pandemic, it is more important than ever that we recognize ways to streamline services and maximize efficiencies in our municipal government.

Conference

Accessible Government

Communication is critical to the success of any organization. North Smithfield is no different, and Committee member Jones will work hard to engage the whole town in a flexible, accessible, transparent government.

Open Sign

Improve Communication

Communities thrive when they embrace transparency, communication, and smart strategy. North Smithfield can improve in all three areas, and when it comes to business development in town all will be better served by improved communication.

Let's start by:

Hosting quarterly Economic Development Summits for North Smithfield businesses and residents. These quarterly events will be designed to:


  • Inform residents about upcoming business development in town

  • Give job seekers the ability to participate in job fairs focused on North Smithfield area businesses

  • Provide opportunity for residents, business owners and future business owners to participate in workshops 

  • Networking opportunities for business owners to develop referral relationships

I will also draw on relationships with the Rhode Island Small Business Development Center, SCORE-RI, and the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce to promote skills-building training for entrepreneurs. These skills-building programs will support the future small business owners of North Smithfield, and equip them - and experienced business owners! - with the knowledge to succeed.

Grants & Development

I will recommend the hiring of a Development Officer for the town of North Smithfield. This role will include the identification of grants which may be available for municipal or business purposes. 


  • For municipal grants, this role will be responsible for: setting project budget & timelines; grant writing; regular communication of progress to Town Council, and other duties related to grants as agreed upon by the Town Administrator and Town Council.


  • For business-related grants, this role will: inform local business owners (those which are listed in the NS Business Directory) about the availability of the grants; how the grants may be applied for, and provide reasonable advice as to resources businesses may be able to use to apply for the grant(s).


The Development Officer should be empowered to devote significant office hours every week to support small business owners who need help understanding and navigating local permitting requirements. We don’t want small business owners to spend hours trying to figure out what they need to do -- we want to give them the tools to move quickly so they can succeed greatly!


This role could be part of the Finance Department, under the role of the Finance Director, and can be paid for in the long-term by grant funding.

Protecting Small Business

As Administrator, I will advocate for a North Smithfield Business Diversity Ordinance (NS-BDO)


A Business Diversity Ordinance ensures that formula businesses (also called “chain” businesses) cannot crowd out local, independent businesses. 


BDOs are in use across the country to prevent the unique footprint of a community from being irreparably altered. In Rhode Island, Bristol adopted a BDO which bars formula businesses larger than 2,500 square feet from its downtown. Smaller formula businesses are allowed provided the town determines they will not detract from the district’s uniqueness or contribute to the “nationwide trend of standardized downtown offerings.” 

As a small business owner, it is a high priority for me that we continue nurturing North Smithfield as a magnet for innovative entrepreneurs who are willing to bring their creativity and passion to our streets. As we recover from COVID, we will be relying on the businesses who stuck by their employees and were not fair-weather friends, as some chain businesses are. We need to encourage rapid job growth and recovery, and small businesses are the key to that recovery.


Open Sign

Improve Communication

Communities thrive when they embrace transparency, communication, and smart strategy. North Smithfield can improve in all three areas, and when it comes to business development in town all will be better served by improved communication.

Let's start by:

Hosting quarterly Economic Development Summits for North Smithfield businesses and residents. These quarterly events will be designed to:


  • Inform residents about upcoming business development in town

  • Give job seekers the ability to participate in job fairs focused on North Smithfield area businesses

  • Provide opportunity for residents, business owners and future business owners to participate in workshops 

  • Networking opportunities for business owners to develop referral relationships

I will also draw on relationships with the Rhode Island Small Business Development Center, SCORE-RI, and the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce to promote skills-building training for entrepreneurs. These skills-building programs will support the future small business owners of North Smithfield, and equip them - and experienced business owners! - with the knowledge to succeed.

Grants & Development

I will recommend the hiring of a Development Officer for the town of North Smithfield. This role will include the identification of grants which may be available for municipal or business purposes. 


  • For municipal grants, this role will be responsible for: setting project budget & timelines; grant writing; regular communication of progress to Town Council, and other duties related to grants as agreed upon by the Town Administrator and Town Council.


  • For business-related grants, this role will: inform local business owners (those which are listed in the NS Business Directory) about the availability of the grants; how the grants may be applied for, and provide reasonable advice as to resources businesses may be able to use to apply for the grant(s).


The Development Officer should be empowered to devote significant office hours every week to support small business owners who need help understanding and navigating local permitting requirements. We don’t want small business owners to spend hours trying to figure out what they need to do -- we want to give them the tools to move quickly so they can succeed greatly!


This role could be part of the Finance Department, under the role of the Finance Director, and can be paid for in the long-term by grant funding.

Protecting Small Business

As Administrator, I will advocate for a North Smithfield Business Diversity Ordinance (NS-BDO)


A Business Diversity Ordinance ensures that formula businesses (also called “chain” businesses) cannot crowd out local, independent businesses. 


BDOs are in use across the country to prevent the unique footprint of a community from being irreparably altered. In Rhode Island, Bristol adopted a BDO which bars formula businesses larger than 2,500 square feet from its downtown. Smaller formula businesses are allowed provided the town determines they will not detract from the district’s uniqueness or contribute to the “nationwide trend of standardized downtown offerings.” 

As a small business owner, it is a high priority for me that we continue nurturing North Smithfield as a magnet for innovative entrepreneurs who are willing to bring their creativity and passion to our streets. As we recover from COVID, we will be relying on the businesses who stuck by their employees and were not fair-weather friends, as some chain businesses are. We need to encourage rapid job growth and recovery, and small businesses are the key to that recovery.


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