Council has its doubts about savings from private DPW

Council has its doubts about savings from private DPW

NORTH PROVIDENCE - Members of the North Providence Town Council grilled Mayor Lombardi last week over his proposal to privatize the Department of Public Works.

Council members asked Lombardi and Finance Director Justin Cambio to provide all of the information provided by lower bidder Cardi Corp. over the course of six meetings between representatives for the company and the Lombardi administration.

Council President Kristen Catanzaro said she has a hard time believing that Cardi Corp. will be paid the same amount of money whether there is a winter full of blizzards or small storms, as claimed by Lombardi.

"For some reason I can't believe it," she said.

Catanzaro and other council members said they want everything in writing before they take any action on the proposal.

"Until tonight we've seen nothing on this," said Catanzaro.

The mayor assured the council that the "numbers are real," as Cardi Corp. was bidding on the entire package of public works services, including winter snow removal. The company can "plow roads from here to New York" with no trouble, he said.

The town's official requests for proposals will become a part of any agreement with Cardi Corp., said Lombardi.

"I don't know how else to assure you that the services are going to be provided," he told the council.

If Cardi Corp. was a "fly by night" company, he would understand the council's concerns, said Lombardi, but the Rhode Island company is well respected for its work on major projects across the state.

Lombardi said he will provide all of the information requested and asked that the privatization proposal go before the council for a vote at their next meeting on Nov. 4.

Councilor Alice Brady asked Lombardi to also provide information on how many of the 21 employees in public works are within five years of retirement.

The cost savings of $177,421 for the first year with Cardi Corp. would be significantly lower than previously projected due to estimates on payouts from workers taking unemployment, among other factors, but the savings would go up substantially in years two through five, according to Lombardi and Cambio.

The savings in subsequent years would be as follows:

* Year two - $469,304

* Year three - $492,769

* Year four - $517,407

* Year five - $543,278

If it were up to him alone, said Lombardi, there is no doubt he would privatize public works, but the council is ultimately responsible for approving all contracts.

The mayor maintains that municipal leaders from across Rhode Island "are watching to see" what happens in North Providence with privatization of public works services. If local officials are successful in their bid, he said, he envisions others following in the town's footsteps.

Comments

Hast the town council EVER agreed with this mayor on ANYTHING??????????????
Politics as usual in NP.

Why would they agree with a Mayor who has a personal agenda ? Obviously you who go under the name NPresident can't be much of a resident. Maybe you should speak with some of the DPW workers who know why the Mayor wants to privatize. # 1 is to promote himself at taxpayers expense. # 2 is to break the Union that he cannot negotiate with and being another cost to taxpayers with legal bills. Not to mention why would a Mayor who spoke in Town Hall Chambers after the Blizzard debacle state that the "DPW workers did an excellent job during the snow storm". But now he wants to abolish them ? The taxpayers need to realize this, the savings the Mayor is putting out there are his numbers and there may be some discrepancies. The big picture is this, once the town commits to a company and gets rid of their equipment and employees they are held hostage. I say this because what is the town going to do when the bids after the 1st contract expire and all the companies come in at a much larger expense. The Town will be over a barrel at a much larger expense. The low bid from the Cardi Corp is just to get their foot in the door. Taxpayers don't be foolish. For the record I am not a DPW employee or related to any DPW employees.

I was told that the bid does not include grass cutting. Is this true? If so then maybe the numbers need to be "crunched" again.

This is pretty cut and dry, the council needs to have all of the details to make an intelligent decision and the Mayor just has to provide that detail. Given it is all in order, then it's a win for NP taxpayers. Better service for less money by a reputable company that knows that performance is the way to get contracts renewed. That would be a refreshing attitude in NP. The Mayor has to hold his cards until everything is lined up and then lay out the details to answer the questions on the table. That way this deal can get done in a reasonable timeframe. NP needs a fresh start, there are to many old contractual deals that cost too much and have too many people doing half a job. The big thing with privatizing this department is it will show the taxpayers that it saves money and improves service, think about what could be next, I am.