PORTSMOUTH, R.I. — The outgoing Town Council finished up last-minute business Monday night approving a bond ordinance before the newly-elected council members were sworn into office.
The council voted 4-2 to approve an ordinance allowing the town to issue a tax-exempt bond. Voting against were council members Elizabeth Pedro and Joseph W. Robicheau.
The council also voted 4-2 to amend the ordinance with a breakdown of Section 10, which was discussed for nearly a half hour before the final vote. Voting against the amendment were council members Elizabeth Pedro and Joseph W. Robicheau.
According to the interim finance director, the bond issued now would allow exact payment and assist in the 2018 fiscal year budget. Council members stated concern with Section 10 of the ordinance:
“We could build another house for $300,000,” said Councilwoman Pedro. “I’m not comfortable with that.”
The $300,000 listed is set aside for 2 major renovation projects: the Salt Shed and the Brown House. Additional funds are included for other town projects, which may arise.
“I think $300,000 is too much for a Contingency fund,” Pedro said. “Typically contingency is 10 percent of a project,” said Council President Keith Hamilton.
After discussion, the council voted to amend the ordinance, separating the payment for each project: $100,000 for Salt Shed, $100,000 for the Brown House, and $100,000 for various town projects.
Residents also raised questions about the council doing business before the swearing-in ceremony. “It’s not proper to be doing business tonight according to the charter,” said resident Len Katzman. The audience loudly applauded after this statement.
“I appreciate your commentary, but there are things that had to get done,” Hamilton said. The town solicitor agreed, stating “This council still has authority.”
“I’ve been sitting here 10 years. I’m willing to give it another 10 minutes,” said outgoing Councilman James “Jim” Seveney, who is also a state senator-elect for District 11. The audience laughed after this remark.
The council voted to approve the ordinance and proceeded to the swearing-in ceremony for newly elected officials.