WESTERLY — The town's animal control officer will discuss an effort aimed at keeping coyotes in the woods instead of in residents' yards during a Town Council meeting scheduled for Monday.

The officer, Art Smith, will present an overview to the council focused on eliminating food sources that bring coyotes into yards. The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. in Council Chambers at Town Hall.

"Art Smith has a program that has proven to be very effective in other towns that has been implemented here since January. A big component is having residents comply by not leaving food out," Town Council President Christopher Duhamel said on Friday.

During the winter, Duhamel met with Rob Saglio, a resident who has organized residents concerned about the town's coyote population. Duhamel also met with Smith and Chief of Police Shawn Lacey. Saglio asked the council to put the coyote issue on one of its agendas.

Saglio said he expects several residents to address the council on Monday. "Some have had miserable experiences" involving encounters the residents and their pets had with coyotes, he said.

Saglio said he is supportive of the town's approach. "I think, personally, the town has to try the education program before they take any other steps so I think the town is proceeding in a reasonable way," he said.

Saglio expects the council to return to the topic of coyotes in the fall to review the town's efforts. Smith could not be reached for comment.

In other business, the council will discuss a resolution needed to formally request approval from the state General Assembly to schedule a referendum on a proposal to issue general obligation bonds not to exceed $71,410,000 and based on a reimbursement rate from the state of at least 35 percent for the proposed school construction project. The project would renovate all of the district's schools and construct a new State Street School building. Town and school officials expect to receive a reimbursement rate of at least 50 percent but the higher rate is conditioned on meeting state goals and a post-construction inspection.

The referendum date has not yet been set. The School Committee's Building Subcommittee voted Tuesday to request a date in October, but the Town Council has yet to take up the question of exactly when to schedule the referendum.

The Town Council will also discuss potential changes to the Town Charter, the document that sets out the town's form of government. Duhamel said he put the charter on the agenda because potential proposed changes to the charter could be added to the referendum as ballot questions.

Duhamel said he intends to ask the council to consider a change to the Town Council term limit provision in the charter. The charter currently limits individual councilors to two consecutive, two-year terms. The intent of an earlier charter revision was to establish two consecutive four-year terms as a limit, but the end result was the current limit. Duhamel said it could result in strong council members being forced to step aside without a chance for reelection after four years.

dfaulkner@thewesterlysun.com

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