EAST PROVIDENCE — After receiving several platitudes upon its impending departure, the East Providence Budget Commission did give its approval to several noteworthy issues at its final scheduled meeting held Thursday, March 28, at City Hall.
The Commission is ending its 15-month run of oversight of city affairs. Thursday, Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee and State Director of Revenue Rosemary Booth Gallogly were in attendance to salute the Commission members, thanking them for their efforts in helping stabilize East Providence’s once fractured finances.
The Commission and members of its staff, including East Providence native Christy Healey as well as Rob Eaton and Heather Martino, were also presented with citations from East Providence City Council President James Briden, himself a member of the overseeing body since being elected in November of last year.
Once the formalities were concluded, the Commission — including Chairman Diane Brennan, Stephen Bannon, Michael O’Keefe and City Manager Peter Graczykowski — got about to the last bit of business at hand.
The Commission approved a resolution seeking the final borrowing of Tax Anticipatory Notes (TANs) for Fiscal Year 2012-13. City Finance Director Malcolm Moore told the Commission the city would need only to seek $19.7 million in TANs, some $2 million less than originally expected.
“It’s the final draw we’ll need to make this year,” Mr. Moore said. “And the interest rate continues to go down. I believe we started at 3.5 percent then down to 3.25 percent and this time it’s 2.9 percent. We’re borrowing less money and at a lesser rate. Things are looking good.”
Mr. Moore did note between the receipt of the TANs later this month then of some $13 million in state aid in early May, the city will be “overdrawn” by some $874,000, though he say it should not be a hindrance.
“We should be able to find the money from somewhere if needed,” Mr. Moore added.
Council 94 contract
The Commission also approved the final employee contract it was presented, which was for the AFSCME, AFL-CIO Council 94 custodial workers in the school department.
Lead negotiator, Providence attorney Joseph Whelan, told the Commission the contract was “very much in line” with those pacts recently signed by other school department personnel. The contract changes the terms of healthcare coverage and increases the employee contribution among other terms favorable to the city. The agreement is for five years in length.
“Council 94 has been very cooperative throughout the process,” Mr. Whelan said. “And I’m happy to have gotten this done prior to this meeting.”
In other contract news, the Commission, again acting on behalf of the city, and the East Providence Police Department union, International Brotherhood of Police Officers Local 569, have yet to come to terms. Though the Commission has returned authority to the City Council, Mr. Whelan said he expects to continue to handle negotiations.
Having been hired and already on the job, Kim Mercer was formally acknowledged by the Budget Commission as the new Superintendent of East Providence Schools Thursday.
Ms. Mercer took over the position from Interim Superintendent Dr. John DeGoes on Monday, March 25. She had previously been approved by a search committee, on which Commission Chairman Diane Brennan held a seat, and hired by the School Committee.
The Commission also approved the hire of two temporary staffers — Jennifer Bredemeier and Donna Maschetti — requested by Human Resources Director Kathleen Waterbury. Ms. Bredemeier and Ms. Maschetti each have expertise in matter pertaining to healthcare issues, which are specific need currently in the HR Department. Both employees will be paid no more than approximately $4,700 for their time.
In addition, the Commission signed off on a similar emergency hire in the School Department for the position of Early Childhood Coordinator, Mylissa Moon, at the Meadowcrest School. Ms. Moon’s total compensation package is slightly more than $45,500.
Rainy Day Fund
Of note as well from its last meeting, the Commission conducted a second reading and gave its final approval to the Rainy Day Fund ordinance it previously adopted back in May of 2012 and which was approved by voters as a City Charter amendment in the November 2012 election.
The Rainy Day Fund allows the city to take at least one percent of total revenue from each fiscal year and place it into an account separate from the General Fund. Upon reaching a set figure, $10 million, the overflow monies are then to be shifted into a Capital Fund, which could be used for building maintenance and construction.