Valley Breeze

The North Providence Breeze 04-17-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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NORTH PROVIDENCE EDITION | VALLEY BREEZE | APRIL 17-23, 2019 NORTH PROVIDENCE 5 NORTH PROVIDENCE – Bills making their way through the Rhode Island General Assembly to man- date a 42-hour average work week for firefighters wouldn't immedi- ately impact North Providence, says Mayor Charles Lombardi, as the town already has a 42-hour week in place, but it could "handcuff" offi- cials during future negotiations. Lombardi said he feels badly for com- munities where nego- tiations are active, such as Coventry and Tiverton, but he said all communi- ties may one day bear the cost of this bill, which passed by the Rhode Island House of Representatives last week and is now before the Senate. If the Senate does pass the bill, said Lombardi, "hopefully the gover- nor will veto it." "Hey look, I just don't think the General Assembly should be getting involved in the local municipalities and their ability to negotiate," he said. "They're tying our hands at the negotiating table." State lawmakers are trying to be involved in something that directly impacts the local budgetary process and ultimately impacts the local tax rate, said Lombardi. "Local officials have to put their name on the tax bill," he said. "I just don't think it's right." North Providence firefighters already receive overtime for hours worked beyond the 42-hour week, said Lombardi, but that doesn't mean it couldn't change in the future or be part of a renegotiation. The legislation has been backed by fire unions and opposed by the Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns and municipal leaders. Firefighters say the bill promotes fairness in pay, while municipal lead- ers have said it particularly impacts communities where the 42-hour week isn't already in place. Members of the Central Coventry Fire District, which pays overtime for more than 53 hours on a 56-hour work week, have said it would cost $720,000 to implement the bill if passed. Paul Valletta, of the Rhode Island State Association of Firefighters, says the bill promotes equality, pay- ing firefighters like all other Rhode Islanders are paid for work beyond their shift. House Majority Leader Joe Shekarchi has said the bill promotes both fairness and respect for fire- fighters. Two bills before the House, one to remove the exemption for fire- fighters within the state law and the other requiring overtime after 42 hours of work in an average week, passed 62-9 last week. Average hours worked are calculated over eight weeks. Gov. Gina Raimondo hasn't said whether she'd sign the bills if they came to her desk, saying she'd con- fer with municipal leaders on the issue. Lombardi gave an example of how this bill could impact local negotia- tions. During the last contract talks with the town's fire union, there was talk about moving the work week up to 47 or 48 hours as part of a compromise, he said. Under this bill, such a negotiating tool wouldn't even be on the table. Assertions that firefighters don't get to see their families when they work overtime don't really play into this debate, said Lombardi, as many already don't see their families because they're choosing to work overtime. "It's not about forcing people to work, it's about the money," he said. Lombardi: OT threshold for firefighters wouldn't immediately impact town By ETHAN SHOREY Valley Breeze Managing Editor ethan@valleybreeze.com LOMBARDI NORTH PROVIDENCE – Thirty-five percent of North Providence children are overweight or obese, according to a newly released report by Rhode Island Kids Count. The results of the three-year study show that 17 percent of children in North Providence are overweight and 18 percent are obese. The figure is on par with the statewide average of 35 percent. Children whose body mass index (BMI) is in the 95th percentile for gender and age are considered to be obese. Children with a BMI between the 85th and 95th percentiles are considered to be overweight or at risk for obesity. The rate of overweight or obese children was higher in the state's core cities, with 43 percent either obese or overweight. Here's how North Providence com- pares to neighboring communities: • Johnston: 16 percent overweight, 17 percent obese • Pawtucket: 17 percent overweight, 26 percent obese • Lincoln: 16 percent overweight, 17 percent obese • Providence: 17 percent over- weight, 26 percent obese • Central Falls: 19 percent over- weight, 29 percent obese • Smithfield: 12 percent over- weight, 12 percent obese Children can become overweight or obese as early as age 2, according to the report. Twenty-six percent of R.I. children ages 2 to 4 are over- weight or obese, up to 38 percent for children between ages 5 and 17. Rhode Island Kids Count recom- mended that schools continue to monitor the data to identify opportu- nities for intervention and programs to support children's healthy weight. In North Providence, Supt. Joe Report: 35 percent of children in N.P. are overweight, obese By NICOLE DOTZENROD Valley Breeze Staff Writer nicole@valleybreeze.com See OVERWEIGHT, Page 7

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