SMITHFIELD — The Smithfield Town Council will move forward with sending out a request for proposals to hire a diversity consultant to work with the 11-member Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Task Force.
The request will go out on the condition that the town finds funds from a third-party source to pay for the consultant. Councilor David Tikoian at Tuesday’s council meeting amended the motion to say that money to pay for the consultant should come from grant funding, and not from the town.
Tikoian said he does not want to narrow the funding down to solely a grant, leaving the option open to other partners and funding sources.
Town Manager Randy Rossi estimates a consultant to cost between $20,000 and $30,000, and the town would most likely pay using money from outside organizations that share a goal of working toward inclusion and equity.
The consultant would help guide task force forums, conduct a needs analysis, advise the group on goals and methods, and devise strategies for monitoring progress with a goal of making Smithfield a more inclusive place to live, work and learn.
In addition, the consultant would hold community engagement sessions for town representatives as well as the community as a whole, host engagement forums, review policies, practices and disciplinary records, and provide advice for potential undertakings by the town or school district.
The council agreed to go out for the request unanimously after two failed motions at the Sept. 21 meeting. Tikoian suggested at the September meeting that the town look for a volunteer consultant, similar to an arrangement in Narragansett.
Rossi said he met with multiple people who said they were not able to “do all the work that’s part of the consulting agreement.” He said the town will continue to seek alternative funding sources.
Kim Ziegelmayer, the woman who first spotted racist graffiti on the Route 116 overpass along the Stillwater Scenic Trail that led to a local reckoning of sorts on race, applauded the council for its continued efforts working against racism and hatred in Smithfield, including forming the task force and putting out the request.
“Thank you all for moving forward,” she said Tuesday.
Three juveniles were arrested in connection to the original racist incident, charged with malicious damage and conspiracy.