2013-10-24 / News

Island Rubbish will keep collecting

By Margo Sullivan

Island Rubbish Service has won the bid for collecting recyclables. The Town Council at its Oct. 21 meeting voted 4-0 to award the five-year contract at a total price of $902,560.

According to Town Engineer Michael Gray, the town received three bids for the contract. It entails collections at all town residences, plus municipal buildings and schools. The proposals ranged from $902,560 to $945,000. He recommended Island Rubbish as the “lowest responsive and responsible bidder” in a memo to Town Administrator Kevin Paicos.

Paicos, who is new as town administrator, attended his first regular council meeting Monday night. His first official day on the job will be Nov. 18, he said, but is spending several days a week in Jamestown and has so far met with department heads and members of town boards and commissions. Tina Collins will stay interim town administrator until Nov. 18, the councilors indicated.

In other matters, the Town Council is likely to end the practice of automatically reappointing sitting members of town boards and commissions.

Councilor Mary Meagher said she reviewed the Town Council rules and procedures and could not find information about reappointments. However, she said, the previous council had a policy. “If folks wanted to be reappointed, they were sort of de facto reappointed,” she said.

Meagher said Town Clerk Cheryl Fernstrom has followed the policy unless the member had reached the term limit. As a result, the vacancies have “not necessarily” been advertised, Meagher said.

According to Councilor Gene Mihaly, some board members are “inappropriate” for their respective commission, and some have poor attendance.

“I’m uncomfortable with automatic reappointments,” he said. “I don’t have a proposal at this point, but I would suggest we take this up again after we have a chance to think it through as an alternative to automatic reappointments.”

Councilor Blake Dickinson thinks all vacancies should be advertised. “The process should be open and fair,” he said.

In other business, the Town Council received a letter from the American Civil Liberties Union inquiring about the status of plans to write a policy on the use of town surveillance cameras, Meagher said.

Last summer, Dickinson brought up the need for an electronic surveillance policy, saying he had not been aware of the scope of video surveillance by the local government until he read a Jamestown Press report. After he inquired about the town’s policy, he learned from then-Town Administrator Bruce Keiser that the town had no policy to determine how long these recordings are kept and who can access them.

Dickinson said he felt the town should have a policy.

The ACLU’s letter was not yet included with the council correspondence and was not available to the press Monday night.

Dickinson said, “The ACLU wrote us a letter to say they are patiently waiting to see what that policy is, but they’re glad we are addressing it.”

He suggested his next step would be to discuss the issues with Paicos.

Dickinson acknowledged there has been a delay in developments about the surveillance camera policy.

“I was purposely holding back,” he said.

On Aug. 5, the council met in closed-door executive session to discuss the surveillance policy. They invoked the exception to the open meetings law, which allows for secret discussions about security. Since then, the councilors have not discussed the subject in public session.

Collins indicated there is a draft policy in preparation, and she will forward a copy to Dickinson.

In other business, the councilors read a proclamation honoring Zachary Neronha, who has achieved the rank of Eagle Scout. His project was a new trail at the Conanicut Battery. Council President Kristine Trocki added her personal thanks.

“I walk on your trail all the time with my puppy and think of you,” she said. “We’re all very proud of you.”

Zachary attended the meeting with his family and received a standing ovation.

“May he wear his badge with pride throughout his lifetime and continue to foster the ideals of scouting so that others may benefit as he did from this excellent program,” the proclamation concluded.

Also at the meeting, Paicos reported the town may have reached a compromise about handicap parking on Narragansett Avenue.

“I am cautiously optimistic,” he said. The issue is on hold for the time being, Paicos added.

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