East Providence must reimburse state for Commission staffers

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EAST PROVIDENCE — In what should come as a surprise to no one, the state is seeking reimbursement from the city to the tune of slightly more than $245,000 for services rendered by East Providence Budget Commission staff during Fiscal Year 2012.

Per the legislation creating the Commission, the state had the right to seek payment for tasks completed by support staff it provided to the city. It did so within the last two weeks to the tune of exactly $245,339.46.

Commission member and East Providence City Manager Peter Graczykowski said he expects to pay the bill over the next week. The money will come from the city’s General Fund and derived from so-called “turnover” savings, according to Mr. Graczykowski.

“The way the oversight statute was written it allowed for the state to seek reimbursement for staffing,” Mr. Graczykowski said. “And there was a lot of work to do here, so they had to bring people in.”

The money is for the salaries of Christy Healey, Rob Eaton, Heather Martino and Dave Eaton, each of whom is a state employee currently or formerly working with the Commission in the city. They are being paid at the rate they would have earned on capitol hill.

Mrs. Healey and Rob Eaton remain in East Providence as fiscal advisors to the Commission. Dave Eaton previously held the same position before being recalled by the state. Mrs. Martino served as the city’s Interim Human Resources director until Jan. 31 before handing over the position on a permanent basis to recently hired Kathleen Waterbury on Feb. 1. Mrs. Martino is expected to remain in city for a short transition period.

“Rob and Christy have done a lot purchasing among many other things. Heather was here as the H.R. director for quite a while,” Mr. Graczykowski said. “You have to remember we haven’t had a purchasing agent and we didn’t have anyone in finance for a while. We had people leave those positions, so the money to pay the state comes the ‘turnover’ savings.

“If we had people in those positions, we would have had to pay them. Instead, we’re paying the state for the same services.”

The sum the state was seeking was on the Budget Commission’s meeting agenda for Jan. 31 in the section for payments over $25,000 and approval was given to pay the bill.

Mr. Graczykowski said considering the language of the Commission statute, the amount of time it had been in place and the work support staff did, it should not have come as a surprise East Providence would have to reimburse the state. Similarly, the state is seeking some $3.5 million from Central Falls for work done by its overseer operation.

“No one was trying to hide anything. It was on the agenda in the packet at the meeting. It’s out in the open,” Mr. Graczykowski said. “And we’re not done yet. The meter is still running. We’re going to have to pay the state for every day their staff remains here.”

 

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