EAST PROVIDENCE — While personnel issues made up the bulk of the East Providence Budget Commission’s Thursday, Jan. 3, meeting, a few other topics of note were discussed by the state overseers during their first gathering of 2013.
City Finance Director Malcolm Moore told the Commission East Providence has received a $10 million Tax Anticipatory Note (TAN) backed by Webster Bank. Mr. Moore stated the city received the infusion of funds at the end of December.
The TAN, he continued, comes with an interest rate of 3.35 percent, four-tenths lower than a similar loan secured from Webster last fiscal year. The total interest in dollars for the life of the loan is $204,000. The note is due on July 31 of this year.
Mr. Moore added East Providence is tentatively scheduled to receive a second $10 million through TANs from Webster at the end of February. Mr. Moore said he does not believe the city will need to use the final $2 million in TANs available later in FY13 because of “stronger (tax) collections than originally anticipated.”
It should be noted the city needs to borrow money, in lieu of tax collections, in this manner due to the discrepancies of its fiscal calendar and that of the state’s.
Tranquility Place at Jones Pond
The Commission signed off on the Planning Department’s use of both Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management and Champlain Foundation grants towards the first phase of the Tranquility Place at Jones Pond project.
Back in June of 2012, the city received a $150,000 open space grant from the DEM, which required a matching contribution. That money came from the Champlain Foundation and allowed the refurbishment of the neglected parcel adjacent to Pierce Memorial Stadium to move forward.
Thursday, the Commission gave Planning Director Jeanne Boyle the ability to spend upwards of $50,000 on Phase I of the project, which is earmarked for architectural designs.
Per the request of Commission advisors Christie Healy and Rob Eaton, the overseers agreed to policy changes in regards to the submission of meeting agenda items.
Mrs. Healy noted the volume and tardiness of items submitted recently, which does not afford either her, Mr. Eaton or the Commission enough time to review the subject matter. All agreed to a new submission timetable, which going forward is the Friday before each Commission meeting.
The Commission was displeased upon receipt of a request to approve a head coach and an assistant coach for the East Providence High School swimming teams some six weeks after the 2012-13 winter sports season began.
Claudia Ainslie and Nichole Federowicz were installed in those positions by East Providence Athletic Director Paul Amaral back on Nov. 26, the first official day of the winter season. Commission members questioned why it hadn’t appeared on their agenda until Jan. 3 and why it also had not at least been on that of the School Committee’s during the interim.
The explanation was that there was miscommunication between Mr. Amaral, Interim Superintendent Dr. John DeGoes and Interim Human Resources Director Heather Martino.
The Commission did not formally approve the hires, rather sending it to the School Committee for its consideration at the latter’s next meeting on Jan. 10. The Commission is likely to take up the matter again during its Jan. 17 meeting.
The Commission did approve two other hires at the East Providence Voc School; a part-time culinary assistant and a part-time cosmetology assistant.
New School Committee Chairman Joel Monteiro was granted a seat at the Budget Commission table Thursday and apparently going forward by Chairman Diane Brennan.
Mr. Monteiro interjected briefly in the discussion of the EPHS swimming coaches, asking if the positions were budgeted and if no cuts are planned for interscholastic sports, then why couldn’t the appointments be made. He and the rest of the committee will get their chance to chime in on the matter next week.
Several items of note were tabled at Thursday’s meeting. Requests to fill the vacant Highway Division supervisor position, the extension of John Cimino’s contract as temporary Finance Department employee and a reorganization of the Finance Department, initiated by Commission member and City Manager Peter Graczykowski, were all postponed. In addition, a request to extend the current contract of the city’s tax sale attorney by Mr. Moore was also delayed.
The next meeting of the East Providence Budget Commission takes place Thursday afternoon, Jan. 17, at 3 in Room 306 of City Hall.