HOPKINTON — Members of the Town Council were pleased to learn at Monday’s council meeting that nearly all of the town’s new LED streetlights have been installed.
Town Manager William McGarry reported that 498, or 96 percent, of the town’s 519 streetlights have been converted to LEDs, and that the new lights were already saving the town money.
In April, 2017, the town approved the purchase of its streetlights from National Grid under the statewide Partnership for Rhode Island Streetlights Management, or PRISM, initiative, in which towns buy their streetlights and sign contracts with independent contractors hired by PRISM to maintain them.
The town borrowed $238,000 to purchase the streetlights and LED bulbs. Council Vice President Thomas Buck asked McGarry if he knew how much the town had saved on lighting thus far, and McGarry replied that while the calculations were challenging during the transition period from National Grid to PRISM, it was evident that the Hopkinton lights were already saving money.
“The bottom line is, even paying principal and interest for the first 10 years, it looks like in the first year we’ll save between $25,000 and $30,000,” he said. “National Grid, their rates were exorbitant, so by purchasing those streetlights, there’s a significant amount of savings.”
The public forum segment of the meeting was filled with presentations on the protracted dispute between the town and the Ashaway Ambulance Association.
In preparing its 2018-19 budget, the council refused to award the association an anticipated grant of $50,000, insisting that it needed more detailed financial and personnel records and a nepotism policy. The council has also previously withheld the final-quarter payment of the $45,000 it allocated to the association in the previous fiscal year, and half of the current year’s total annual payment of $50,000. At a special meeting on March 26, members of the Ashaway Fire District voted to lend up to $50,000 to the ambulance corps.
At Monday’s council meeting, Ashaway resident Julie Dumas chastised the council for not supporting Ashaway Ambulance.
“I understand you have asked Ashaway Ambulance for 10 points of info [information],” she said. “They have provided the information, plus a handout to clarify any information that may be in question. I am hopeful that the latest information provided to you can move on and grant them the funds that the taxpayers agreed to give them.”
Ambulance Association Treasurer Eric Perrin said the corps had provided all the information the town had requested, and he expressed disappointment that the council was not voting that night on allocating the money.
“We were told that if we answered these questions, that the money would be released,” he said, noting that he had not been able to get the item on the council agenda.
Because the item was not on the agenda, the state Open Meetings Act prevented councilors from responding to Perrin or discussing the matter, which remains unresolved.