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Gansett Council Roundup: May 7, 2012

Without much debate, the council approves charter changes and files the solicitor’s report on Town Manager Grady Miller.

At its meeting on Monday, the Narragansett Town Council voted on and took testimony on the following agenda items.

- With no debate, the council received and filed a report from Town Solicitor Mark McSally on the appropriateness of Town Manager Grady Miller shifting $3,000 in budget money to the Narrow River Preservation Association for FY 2012. (See attached PDF.)

McSally made three determinations for the council:

  • The adopted budget for the wastewater department was approved with $3,000 earmarked for the NRPA.
  • However, paying for the NRPA from the wastewater enterprise fund was not an appropriate expenditure.
  • Also, any professional service costing more than $2,500 requires council approval.

The motion to receive and file the report was 3-2, in a similar breakdown to . Councilors Glenna Hagopian, David Crook and Alisa Trainor Fleet voted in favor, with councilors Christopher Wilkens and Susan Cicilline-Buonanno voting against.

- A second hearing for the FY 2013 budget was scheduled for May 21 by a 5-0 vote, with the final council workshop at 6:30 p.m.

- Following testimony at several previous meetings, the council voted by several 5-0 margins to forward several charter recommendations on to voters.

For the full list of accepted and rejected recommendations, see the attached 65-page PDF.

- The council voted 5-0 to extend the group life insurance contract with MetLife, although it expressed frustration that the contract did not properly go out to bid.

- The council voted 5-0 to purchase a 2012 John Deere backhoe from Schmidt Equipment for $103,335.11.

According to a memo from Department of Public Works director David E. Ousterhout, the price is about $63,000 less than list because of a purchasing agreement. The money for the equipment is budgeted in FY 2012.

Included in the documentation for the new backhoe is a list of the problems with the department’s current backhoe, a 1995 model with more than 5,500 work hours. (See attached PDF.)

According to Public Works’ employees, there are 14 separate issues, ranging from a rusting floor, a loss of pressure in the hydraulic pump and an inaccurate fuel gauge.

- The council heard short comments from Police Chief Dean Hoxsie on the marine storage and emergency port center project for Galilee. The building is being funded via .

In a memo to the council, Hoxsie and Town Engineer Jeff Ceasrine outlined the seven main elements of the facility:

  • Dimensions of 64 feet by 47 feet.
  • Concrete masonry, with a standing seem metal roof.
  • Three storage bays.
  • A hardened meeting and training room, with communications equipment and connections to allow it to be used in emergencies.
  • Storage space in a mezzanine above the meeting room.
  • An emergency power generator.
  • A security access / keycard system to limit access to the building.

According to Hoxsie and Ceasrine, the project was expected to go out to bid this month, with an awarding in June and construction starting in July.

The only request from councilors was for the architecture of the building to be a bit friendlier, to fit in with the coastal aspect of Galilee.

- The council also approved $108,000 for four new Ford Crown Victoria police cruisers using a purchasing agreement.

According to Hoxsie, Ford is discontinuing the Crown Victorias used by the department starting with the 2013 model year, and as a result each car was discounted several thousand dollars. Hoxsie said the cars will replace and three others with high mileage. The purchase is covered by the FY 2012 budget.

- The council approved upping permit fees for peddlers, solicitors and itinerant vendors to $50 from $25, the maximum allowed by state law. The measure passed by a 5-0 vote.

- The council approved minor increases in the minimum wages for certain summer employees by a 5-0 vote. The council also approved an interim shifting of the employee parking lot to a portion of the West Lot of the town beach, due to work at Canonchet.

- The council approved the addition of 10 new segments (100 feet) of boardwalk at Canonchet Farm, as well as two Canonchet trail kiosks and benches by the Narragansett Tree Society.

- The council approved a $48,425 contract for Indoor Air Technologies for duct cleaning, disinfection and inspection for various buildings.

Although councilors noted the high price, they said it was the lowest bid, and several of the ducts had never been cleaned or inspected.

- The council approved $23,125 in consulting bills for Nyhart related to pension actuary services.

- The council approved a termination agreement between Cox Wireless and the town. According to documentation, the cell phone service provided by Cox went out of business, and they no longer needed the space provided on a water tower. Cox will continue to pay the leasing fee until the contract’s expiration date in 2014.

- The council approved its minutes from May 16, 2011 meetings by a 5-0 vote.

The council also approved the following consent agenda items by a 5-0 vote:

  • A class F-1 alcoholic beverage license for an Endless Abilities fundraiser at the Towers on May 10.
  • A request for permission for a Show and Shine Car Show at Veterans Memorial Park on August 26, held by the Boston chapter of the BMW CCA.
  • A holiday sales license for Samantha Vang of Chi Spa.
  • A soldier and sailor license for James P. Given, the owner of Pizza By Fire, LLC.
  • A payment of $6,000 to WB Community Health for the Good Health Benefit Premiums.
  • A contract for $3,970 to Accu-Tech, the lowest bidder for fire alarm cable and hardware.
  • A contract for cold patch, hot patch and asphalt emulsion to two vendors, Johnston Asphalt and J.H. Lynch and Sons, based on low bid prices.
  • A contract for $14,055 for 2012 shuttle service for the Narragansett Pier Area to the lowest bidder, the Narragansett School System.
  • Two contract extensions until December 20, 2012, with Abcore Restoration Company for general construction services, building renovations, restoration and reconstruction.
  • A replacement truck body for a 1999 Ford from Coastal International Trucks for $6,750.
  • A contract with GovDeals.com, an online auction site, to sell surplus town supplies and equipment.

For more information on any agenda item, visit ClerkBase.

Frank M. White May 10, 2012 at 01:16 PM
Hello, Stephen. You said there was an attached PDF about the Narragansett charter changes, but I couldn't find it? Your help is requested. Frank White Member, Narragansett School Committee
I'm Tired of the Games May 10, 2012 at 03:20 PM
The life insurance not being bid IS very troubling. More so than anything Mr. Miller did with the Narrow River testing. Why does the Town pay someone more than $70K (including benefits and buyback) who cannot even follow purchasing regulations? In each of the last two fiscal years this cost has been in excess of $30K per year with no bid? Not approved by the Council? If the HR person was in the private sector she would be fired for this big of a screw-up! Now, she rams through an 1 year extension with no bids for another $30K at the last minute? Where are the quotes or bid specs? Why wasn't this run through the purchasing agent? Sounds like incompetence by the HR "expert" at best or possibly corruption or kickbacks. Somebody probably got a sweetheart deal. This needs an investigation by the solicitor if the town manager doesn't want to terminate this incompetent individual. Mr. Miller has the bullets. He just needs to pull the trigger to show leadership.
Stephen Greenwell (Editor) May 10, 2012 at 04:15 PM
Hi Frank, sorry about that - I think the sheer size of the PDF made the processing bugger up a bit last night. It should be viewable now though, along with a couple other PDFs.
My Opinion May 10, 2012 at 10:33 PM
Your on the right track. The fact is that Mr. Miller would have to shoot himself to get to the bottom of that investigation. Some council members were very concerned as they questioned Mr. Miller about the very subject at the May 7th meeting. The HR person made Mr. Miller aware of the need for the bid process back in January. Mr. Miller denied being made aware of the issue back in January. Could Mr. Miller have been dishonest to the council’s question? Seems Mr. Miller, thru his previous employer had his life insurance with Met Life. The Town dumped the Inter-Local Trust Insurance Company and transferred employee’s coverage to Met Life without the consent of Council. Is that the sweetheart deal to which you refer. Could Mr. Millers previous engagement with Met Life equate to motive for the transfer? Disingenuous behavior has landed the Town Manager where he is, a complete failure on all fronts.
I'm Tired of the Games May 10, 2012 at 11:18 PM
My Opinion: The HR person was hired by Ceasrine, not Miller. Her conduct in Town Hall and lack of knowledge of existing contracts reigned supreme. She would intimidate employees while possessing little knowledge of the job. The on the job training under the protection of Ceasrine was obvious. Mr. Miller has some faults for sure. I was referring to the fact, that the position is a duplication to the tune of $70K and the insurance problem existed before Mr. Miller's arrival. He needs to terminate this incompetent person and re-assign the functions to the positions that held it previously at a great cost savings. Mr. Miller is not a failure other than sticking with people he inherited. His hiring of Mr. Goodrich is an example of the leadership he can accomplish.
My Opinion May 10, 2012 at 11:49 PM
Two thoughts come to mind you may pose as questions. Ask Mr. Miller if he would welcome the investigation that you propose. I am sure he would decline as the outcome may lead right back to him. Inquire with Mr. Miller and the new finance director Mr. Goodrich, whom you hold in high regard, how their relationship has flourished. It is quite obvious that they have no use for one another. Mr. Goodrich attempted to offer guidance to Mr. Miller in the NRPA mess. His advice was ignored. The article in today’s newspaper quoting Mr. Miller should remove all doubt as to the status of that relationship. Threw the poor guy right under the bus.
I'm Tired of the Games May 11, 2012 at 12:41 AM
The Town Council would have to initiate any investigation. A cover letter to the TC reflected that the insurance policies had not been properly handled. You would think the TC would be much more interested considering the amount of money. Mr. Goodrich has done a good job, but don't expect everything to be rosy between the two. Mr. Miller comes from public relations, not accounting. Mr. Goodrich is looking from a different perspective. Ultimately, it is Miller's call and his head. Fact remains the incompetent HR person blew this one for the last 3 years at $30K a year. Where are the comparisons between coverage and costs? Mr. Miller didn't do the leg work, HR did and didn't send it to Purchasing. Not Mr. Miller.

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