EAST PROVIDENCE — As part of a lengthy agenda at its Thursday, Jan. 31, meeting, the Budget Commission temporarily tabled two plans involving the East Providence Police Department, one regarding the procurement of a school safety grant and the other to replace its beleaguered cruiser fleet.
EPPD Lieutenant Michael David sought an expedited resolution to his request to approve a bid for the use of federal grant monies to upgrade security aspects at East Providence High School, the Tech Center as well as at Martin and Riverside Middle Schools.
Lt. David wanted the Commission to fast-track approval because the grant, which was established in Fiscal Year 2010, expires on March 31 of this year. He said an extension was not available and that the city must show the project completed and the money spent by March 31. A vendor who had previously done security work for the city, Dane Tech Inc. of Johnston, would be retained to complete the project.
The Commission, while supporting the proposal, was leery of any possible legal ramifications from not following the Request For Proposal process. It therefore approved the authorization of a RFP for the project, with the expectation Dane Tech would be one of the applicants and would then be able to be hired through the proper channels.
The grant, which is derived from the federal Urban Area Security Initiative, is worth $40,000 to the city. The money would go to install access control systems (security entry doors) at Martin and Riverside and the Tech Center. One closed-circuit camera would also be installed in the entry ways at both Riverside and the Tech Center. Sixteen camera, in addition to those already present, would be installed throughout the high school. Also the ability of the police department to have access feeds from all cameras would be facilitated, a feature not currently available.
As it did with the security grant money proposal, the Commission supported the police department’s initial process to replace its tired cruiser fleet, though expressed some reservations about future plans or lack thereof.
EPPD Sergeant Mike Grant presented the proposal to the Commission, which would have asset forfeiture money pay for the vast majority of the vehicle replacements. The department would purchase 60 cruisers over the next several months. Sgt. Grant noted nearly all of the current cruisers have very high mileage and some are simply inoperable due to extended use or accidents. He said the need to buy such a large quantity is because the city’s past finances did not allow for more regular acquisitions.
In supporting the proposal City Manager and Commission member Peter Graczykowski said the police department needed “to start somewhere and go forward” with a replacement program.
While fellow Commission member Michael O’Keefe agreed with that assessment, he raised the question about future plans to replace cruisers. “You need to work out a plan for purchasing so you don’t get stuck with a (buying) surge, then nothing, then another surge.” Mr. O’Keefe requested a replacement plan of some five-years in length for the Commission to evaluate, which is expected to be presented at its next meeting on Feb. 14.
Chief Information Officer Kelly Aherns requested the Commission fill three positions in the Information Technology department, which it did. Isaac Dominguez was named Information Systems Technician while both William Nelson and Michael O’Callahan each were named as an Information Systems Manager.
Mr. Graczykowski updated the Commission on the implementation of the Streetlight Management Program currently being conducted by the Public Works department. He said there could be revisions to the program, which calls for a number of streetlights to be turned off for cost-saving reasons.
Mr. Graczykowski noted lower wattage bulbs could be placed in the lights to reduce costs. He also said National Grid could install more efficient LED lighting instead of standard bulbs. Any possible revisions would be made following an evaluation of the program once it is fully implemented.
Besides discussion of closing and reconfiguring schools, the Commission approved a request from Interim Schools Superintendent Dr. John DeGoes to hire Julianne Socci as a Business teacher at East Providence High School.
The position was budgeted at the start of the 2012-13 term, but had been unable to be filled permanently, according to Dr. DeGoes. Substitutes manned the post throughout the first semester. Ms. Socci would start immediately.
Tax appeals overturned
The Commission, as it had indicated at its previous meeting on Jan. 17, overturned three decisions made by the City Tax Review Board, granting appeals to the East Bay Community Action Program for buildings the organizations owns throughout East Providence.
The Tax Review Board had granted the appeals despite the objection of Tax Accessor Steve Hazard. The Commission, however, accepted Mr. Hazard’s recommendations, though it did allow for the East Bay Community Action Program to ask for a continuation of the process.
The next East Providence Budget Commission meeting takes place Thursday, Feb. 14, in Room 306 of City Hall at 3 p.m. Of note, Commission Chairman Diane Brennan requested a review of the future of the All-Day Kindergarten program be put on the agenda.