EAST PROVIDENCE — Though the “big” news to come from the bi-weekly meeting of the East Providence Budget Commission Thursday, Feb. 28, was the announcement of its impending dissolution, the state overseers did conduct other significant business during the forum held in Room 306 of City Hall.
Of particular import, the Commission gave its second and final approval to five contractual agreements between the city and employee unions. The Commission backed pacts negotiated over the last several months with the East Providence Education Association (school teachers), Education Secretaries, Steelworkers, Teachers Assistants and the East Providence Professional, Managerial and Technical Employees Association.
The main points of each contract include small, incremental cost of living increases throughout the duration of the pacts as well as increased co-pay and a uniform healthcare plan for each group. The contracts are five years in length back-dated to the start of the current fiscal year. The agreements run through FY2017-18.
The Commission agreed to six requests regarding personnel.
Of note, it approved the layoffs recommended by Interim Schools Superintendent Dr. John DeGoes. Eight positions will be reduced at the close of the current term, including three at East Providence High School (Business, Physical Education and Social Studies), two each at the Francis (Kindergarten, Grade 1) and Waddington (Grade 1, Grade 2) elementary schools and one at Whiteknact Elementary (Grade 5).
Also from the schools, the Commission granted the East Providence High athletic department the ability to post and fill the spring sports positions of head boys’ tennis coach ($3,172 salary) and assistant boys’ outdoor track and field coach ($2,539).
In addition, a request to hire a teachers’ assistant at Whiteknact Elementary on an emergency basis was approved.
On the city side, the Commission granted approval for Information Technology Director Kelly Aherns to hire a Systems Technician, City Clerk Kim Casci to fill an assistant position in her office on a temporary emergency basis and Human Resources Director Kathleen Waterbury to fill out the part-time employee roster for seasonal staff at the Looff Carousel.
Other departmental requests
The Commission granted three other departmental requests.
The overseers gave their approval to a proposal from the Planning Department to advertise for bid to rent or purchase three Automated Teller Machines (ATMs). The ATMs would be placed at City Hall, the East Providence Police Station and the East Providence Senior Center.
The plan had its origins in the City Council and was first proposed by Ward 3 representative Thomas Rose. The idea behind the plan is to give access to customers at places where payments or fines are needed to be paid or there is a need for quick cash. Users would pay a nominal fee, which could offset the lease of the machines and possibly provide the city with added revenue.
The Commission agreed to a contract extension with the Wainwright Investment firm, which serves as the advisor to the Police and Fire Retirement Board.
Lastly, the Commission agreed to a request for bid to be advertised for the purchase of 14 ballistic vets for the East Providence Police Department.