EAST PROVIDENCE — The East Providence Budget Commission, reseated as of April 18 specifically for personnel matters, approved four hiring measures on the city side and tabled another request from the School Department at its first meeting back in session Thursday, May 2, in Room 306 at City Hall.
The Commission approved the application list and candidate selected by City Manager Peter Graczykowski and Human Resources Director Kathleen Waterbury for the vacant Highway Superintendent position.
Robert M. Walker, of Lincoln, was appointed to the Highway post at a yearly salary and benefits package of $115,184, which is some $19,000 under the position’s budgeted total. Mr. Walker compiled the highest combined score (93) among the final three candidates from a written test and through the interview process.
Two East Providence residents, William Abbood and Christopher DiCecco, finished second and third, respectively, with scores of 86 and 85.
Ms. Waterbury told the Commission seven candidates went through the initial interview process. The three finalists were deemed the most qualified and ultimately Mr. Walker graded out the highest.
The Commission approved Mr. Walker’s hiring on a 4-0 consensus. Commission member Stephen Bannon abstained from the vote.
Mark Johnson, of North Kingstown, similarly earned the highest score (79.33) among the candidates and was approved for hire as an auto mechanic at the Central Garage. No city residents were among the top three candidates.
Mr. Johnson will earn a yearly salary package of $67,651, once again some $10,000 below the budgeted figure for the position.
The Commission approved the hiring of two candidates to attend the academy in anticipation of filling vacant positions on the East Providence Police force.
Kelly Munger, of Newport, and Matthew Varrone, of Exeter, earned scores of 142 and 141 points, respectively, to finish in spots second and third on the eligibility list. The top scorer, Thomas Davis of East Greenwich with a total of 143, requested his position be deferred to a later date.
Cadets Munger and Varrone will begin their Police Academy training on July 22 at the Community College of Rhode Island campus in Lincoln. The prospects will each receive $18,000 plus benefits in compensation this fiscal year. The costs of sending the candidates to the academy is $17,993, including testing, uniforms, gear, weapons and ammunition.
In addition, Keith Riendeau, of East Providence, and Alex Travers, of Swansea, were approved as the next two alternates to be considered for hire. Mr. Riendeau scored 139 and Mr. Travers, 138, during testing.
Three other city residents were among the group of 29 candidates to take the test. The openings are due to the retirement late last year of former Deputy Chief Charles Swenson and the impending departure of Sergeant T.J. Britto, who is about reach the mandatory retirement age of 60 as of August 2013.
The final hire approved on the city side came in the Finance Department where Director Malcolm Moore requested a temporary group leader be hired to help implement the new tax collection computer system.
Sue Breault, a former member of the department, will return per the 75-Day rule for retired employees. She will receive a little more than $14,000 in compensation for the remainder of her stay.
Overall, keeping Ms. Breault on instead of hiring a new person to fill the position will save the city around $47,000 in wages and benefits. Mr. Moore said he expects to be able to maintain a full-time staff of five in his department, instead of six, once the new system is completely in place.
The one request the Commission did not approve was that from Schools Superintendent Kim Mercer to finally post and fill on a permanent the position of Director of Pupil Personnel in the department.
Cheryl Ursillo, a retired administrator, has been manning the position for the better part of the last two school terms. Mrs. Mercer said to be in compliance with Title 16 of federal law, the department should show “good faith” and post the position each year. According to the records of past Superintendents — Mrs. Mercer was only hired within the last two months — the position has not been posted since 2010.
Commission Chairman Diane Brennan and member Christy Healey, serving on the Commission for the first time since being named to replace Michael O’Keefe on March 28, both raised budgetary concerns about the proposed salary and benefits package ($138,662) to be offered.
The figure is some $13,000 more than budgeted. Mrs. Brennan and Mrs. Healey as well as Mr. Bannon requested more specific information to determine from where the extra money would be derived. Both Mrs. Mercer and Mr. Moore said it would come from the savings the department earned from the recent hiring of a new Director of Education at a below-market compensation package.
Unmoved, the Commission opted to hold off its approval until its next meeting, which is tentatively scheduled for Thursday, May 23, at 3 p.m. in Room 306 of City Hall.