WESTERLY — The Town Council will discuss a proposed new contract with the Police Department's rank-and-file officers and proposed changes to administration of the transfer station when it meets Monday. Later in the week representatives of the Rhode Island treasurer's office and the state Department of Education will join the council and the School Committee to discuss funding for the proposed school building project.
On Monday, the Town Council will start with a private, closed-door executive session discussion of several items, including a proposed new contract with the International Brotherhood of Police Officers Local 503, the union that represents the town's police officers. The union's three-year contract expired on June 30. The executive session agenda includes both a discussion and an item described as, "Ratification of the contract between Westerly Local 503 International Brotherhood of Police Officers and the Town of Westerly."
A municipal ordinance requires issuance of a "financial impact analysis" "prior to a vote to approve ... as an attachment to the Town Council agenda on the Town of Westerly's web site." There was no financial impact analysis attached to the council's agenda as of late Friday afternoon, but Town Manager J. Mark Rooney said he would direct town staff to post the analysis on the municipal website.
During a public workshop or Committee of the Whole meeting in Council Chambers at Town Hall, the Town Council will discuss a proposal to establish a new ordinance that would create a schedule of fees for various items at the transfer station. Town officials have said use of a fee schedule would reduce the cost of legal advertisements that are required whenever the fees are changed. The amount of the savings is unclear since the fee schedule is only one page shorter than the current ordinance.
In addition to setting up the fee schedule, the new ordinance would give the town manager and public works director the authority to change the hours of operation of the transfer station.
Under the current ordinance, changes to the hours of operation must be approved by the Town Council. On Friday, council President Christopher Duhamel said he is against the proposed change and wants the council to retain authority over the hours of operation and proposed changes to the fees.
Rooney has discussed closing the transfer station an additional day each week as a way to cut costs. It is currently open six days per week. Some members of the council expressed support for Rooney's idea while others were opposed. "The council was consulted before, they should be consulted again," Duhamel said on Friday.
Rooney said Friday that he planned to move forward with plans to close the transfer station an additional day per week. Additionally, he said he would soon propose an increase in the fee for construction debris brought to the transfer station.
The Town Council will also discuss private roads and Rooney's decision to stop providing town services such as plowing and pothole repairs on them. He said the services have been provided for about nine private roads of the close to 90 private roads in the town. "Taxpayers' money should not be spent on private roads," Rooney said.
On Wednesday, at 4:30 p.m. General Treasurer Seth Magaziner and representatives of the state Department of Education will address the Town Council and School Committee in Council Chambers to review funding for the proposed school redesign project. Duhamel and School Committee Chairwoman Diane Chiaradio Bowdy have pushed for Magaziner to come to town to review the project. The state has agreed to reimburse the town for at least 35 percent and up to 50 percent of the cost of the $71.4 million project. A referendum on the project is scheduled for Oct. 10.