Editor’s note: At the end of each year, The Sun provides an opportunity for area school superintendents and municipal leaders to reflect on the year and, if they wish, discuss plans for the new year.

2018 turned into a great year for Richmond. The people of this town have voted a very workable Council into office for this next two-year term. With regret, we say goodbye to former Councilman Mark Trimmer. With anticipation we welcome aboard new Councilwoman Nell Carpenter. I very much look forward to working with her. We are all off to a good start at supporting the interests of our town.

Those interests are what guide and direct our Council, whose main goal is still to control the taxes our residents pay. We have our work cut out for us. Our town budget process will get underway again at the beginning of 2019. This is a busy and difficult time. I would like to take the time to invite the townspeople of Richmond to be a part of the process of putting together the budget for 2020. Please come and see how the process works and be a part of it. Let us know what you think in person.

Last year, we gave our town employees some much-needed financial support in the form of raises. We were losing our valuable, trained employees to other towns that offered a better wage. Working with the town administrator, town finance director, and the department heads, we put a workable solution together. Even with this, the budget did not increase significantly, from the town budget perspective. The Chariho Regional School District was able to contain costs a bit more, with only small increases to each of the three towns. That small increase was a very welcome change. Pray for another year like that one for the 2020 town budget.

One of the upcoming events that will impact the town in 2019 is the revamping of the Interstate 95 access points and egress ramps. There will be stoplights at the intersections of both, which will help to alleviate the accidents that occur with the current ramp structure in Richmond.

Something that many people have expressed an interest in is hearing more about the proposed Community Center. This proposal is being researched after the purchase of 4 Richmond Townhouse Road, the property that sits directly across the road from the Richmond Town Hall. Recently the Town Council formed a committee to evaluate needs, costs and other design considerations for this building.

A problem that has arisen from the gypsy moth infestation of a couple of years ago is tree mortality. The town placed some money in the budget for the care of this problem. But more trees are being killed due to the poor condition the trees were left in after the gypsy moths. The poor condition of the trees allowed a disease that the trees would normally be able to fight off to infiltrate trees that survived the gypsy moths and still kill them. Hence, more trees were killed due to a weakened condition. Our Department of Public Works has been and is putting in more work to bring down these trees. We are receiving help from other agencies to deal with the problem. However please be aware that the town is not responsible for the trees on personal property. You are responsible for the trees that are on your personal property.

Speaking of Public Works, our very own Department of Public Works Director Mr. Scott Barber has been continuing to care for our roads. In addition to the many problems from storm damage that his department had to deal with, they have also been repairing roads, specifically one mile of rebuild on Kenyon Hill Trail, drainage and repair on the the entire White Oak development road, repairing drainage issues and repaving a section of Punch Bowl Trail, and work on Kenyon School House Road, which had severe damage from poor drainage and pavement failure. Thank you for that work.

So as a wind-down to the year of 2018, I just want to say thank you to our residents and our town employees. I hope you had a very merry Christmas and have a happy new year.

Gary Wright is the president of the Richmond Town Council.

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