EAST PROVIDENCE — In a statement released to the media Thursday, Nov. 7, East Providence City Council representative from Ward 2 Helder Cunha explained his rationale for submitting a resolution to relieve City Manager Peter Graczykowski from his duties, something Mr. Cunha and colleagues did by a 4-1 vote at their meeting on Nov. 5.
“I made the motion to remove the City Manager because I had lost faith that he was the right person to lead the city through what is still one of the most difficult times in its history,” Mr. Cunha’s statement read at the start.
It continued, “My overriding goal is to continue the process of stabilizing city finances and to explore every possible alternative to deliver city services to our citizens at reasonable costs.”
Mr. Graczykowski was a member of the state-appointed Budget Commission, which for all of 2012 and for the better part of 2013 helped guide East Providence out of immediate financial troubles and actually into the black. Through job cuts and position consolidations along with slight tax increase, the city emerged with what was a one-time $8.7 million surplus at the end of Fiscal Year 2012-13.
The former City Manager’s credibility on money matters, however, took a bit of a hit when his initial budget plan for FY2013-14 included significant raises for himself and other top administrators. The Council nixed the budget component, instead opting to give non-union personnel two percent increases. The Council also opted to freeze the decreases in the Homestead Exemption and Early Pay tax programs, while increasing property taxes by three-quarters of a percent rather than one full percent.
Upon Mr. Graczykowski’s firing, the Council determined it would meet on Friday, Nov. 8, at 5 p.m. in the City Hall Chamber to discuss the possibility of hiring an interim City Manager to fill the vacancy on a temporary basis.
Mr. Cunha’s statement concluded, “I believe that the other members of the city council share those goals and we will be working together to find a manager to further those aims.”