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Town studies merger with Fire District

December 18, 2010

A merger between the two could save the town money.

At the request of the East Greenwich Fire District’s Board of Commissioners, the Town Council has agreed to participate in the study of a possible consolidation of the district and the town.
The council voted unanimously Monday night to participate in the study, and also appointed Jeffrey B. Cianciolo as its liaison to the district.

The district, in a motion raised by board member and newly elected Councilman Mark Watkins Gee, voted 3-2 last month to undertake a study of possible cost savings and other benefits the town could gain by merging fire district operations into town management.
Discussion of a merger has been ongoing for years, Council President Michael B. Isaacs said.
“We have the best working relationship with the fire district in the years I’ve been involved in the town. But does this make sense from a financial point of view” We also have to look at the policy issues,” he said.
“I thought it was a good idea to involve the Town Council,” said Gee, adding he was comfortable with Cianciolo representing the council in talks with his former board.
“It’s tough to look at the situation without both parties having input,” Gee said.
Any potential merger would not come in the immediate future, said Isaacs, who plans to keep an open mind on the necessity of a consolidation.
“We’ve been asked to take part in a study. If this leads to a need for further expanded discussion, we’ll take it one step at a time,” he said.
In other business, the council:
Granted second reading to a zoning ordinance amendment banning nonprofit education institutions as a permitted use after a public hearing in which no members of the public spoke in favor or against. Another institution could only set up in East Greenwich if the council grants it a zone change. Council members indicated they would further discuss the ordinance and its effect of New England Tech’s plans to create a consolidated Rocky Hill Fairgrounds zone before granting it third and final reading.
Received an update on Odeum restoration from Odeum Corp. Chairman Frank Prosnitz, who reported the board has raised about $50.000 toward its goal of $300,000 for the project. He said the board would seek approval from the fire district in late January for its plans to meet state and local fire codes, and that the theater remained on target for a late 2011 reopening.
Approved an emergency vehicles and traffic ordinance change for a stop sign at the corner of Silverwood and Maplewood drives at the request of Police Chief Thomas C. Coyle and Public Works Director Joseph Duarte. The board also granted first reading to a permanent amendment, and scheduled a public hearing on it for Jan. 10.
Authorized Finance Director Kathy Raposa to submit an affadavit to the State Employees Retirement System to move Town Manager William Sequino Jr.’s entire pension into the state system. The council established a separate pension for him when he was first hired in 1988, and he entered the state system in 2006 for subsequent contributions.
Presented commendations to Ron Phipps, recently named president of the National Realtors Association; and Stephen Antoni, president of the R.I. Association of Realtors.
Postponed discussion of residents’ concerns in the Long Meadow Farm subdivision until the Jan. 10 meeting.
Renewed the alcoholic beverage license for Caprice, formerly Cucina Mista. The board held it over from its license renewals last month due to uncertainty over the restaurant’s ownership status/
Granted a victualing license to Chartwells at New England Tech, 1400 Division Road.
Renewed all jukebox/mechanical device licenses.

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