East Providence City Council revises city manager search

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EAST PROVIDENCE — At a special session held Wednesday night, April 9, in the City Hall Chamber, the East Providence City Council revised the search process in its quest to permanently fill the city manager position.

Paul Lemont, who once held the same post for some 14 years, has been serving as Acting City Manager since November of last year after the Council fired Peter Graczyowski earlier in the fall.

The Council waited through a series of meeting cancellations due to frequent snowstorms during the winter before revisiting the search for a permanent manager in recent weeks.

The group tasked Human Resources Director Kathleen Waterbury with initiating the start of the process. Wednesday, Ms. Waterbury told the Council it needed to expand its advertising and come up with a suitable salary range to draw increased interest in the position.

To date, the job has only been posted online at the monster.com website and in local newspapers. The Council gave Ms. Waterbury authorization to use other means of advertisement. It also settled on a salary range of between $115,000 and $130,000.

Also up for discussion at Wednesday’s special meeting was the status of a proposed charter revision that would change the city’s form of governance from a manager-council format to one of a strong mayor-council.

Council President James Briden, who recently stated his intention not to run for re-election from Ward 1, initiated the discussion. Mr. Briden recommended East Providence follow the lead of nearby New London, Conn., which took up the same subject in the last few years.

The New London Council, at the time, opted to first call for a Charter Commission, which allowed for a comprehensive overview of the potential change. The New London Commission eventually determined a ballot measure creating a strong mayor with a seven-member council should be put to a vote. The referendum passed in 2010 and a strong mayor was voted into office the following November.

Mr. Briden said the Charter Commission would be able to compare and contrast the decisions made in New London and other municipalities across the country on the topic.

Though no vote was taken Wednesday, the consensus of the Council seemed to favor setting up the Charter Commission, which would likely mean the proposal wouldn’t reach voters until the 2016 election cycle.

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