Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Pawtucket 11-13-2019

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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8 PAWTUCKET / THE VALLEY NOVEMBER 13-19, 2019 | VALLEY BREEZE | PAWTUCKET EDITION Local communities challenge lifetime contracts law NORTH PROVIDENCE – Local leaders joined together at North Providence Town Hall on Tuesday to announce their legal challenge to the "financially irresponsible" life- time contracts law, which they note allows the automatic continuation of municipal contracts for employees, negating the need for negotiations. The cities and towns are chal- lenging the law as an impairment of existing contracts under the state constitution's Contract Clause, as well as a violation of the Home Rule provision of the state constitution, which grants cities and towns the authority to decide local matters. The communities filing suit Tuesday include Barrington, Bristol, Burrillville, Central Falls, Charlestown, Cranston, East Greenwich, Lincoln, Little Compton, North Kingstown, North Providence, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, Providence, Smithfield, and Woonsocket. Additional com- munities may sign on as plaintiffs. "The lifetime contracts law ties the hands of local officials when negotiating, especially when trying to get concessions," said Cranston Mayor Allan Fung. "As the costs of health care, pensions and retiree benefits keep rising, taxpayers will get crushed if local leaders can't renegotiate those benefits." The lifetime con- tracts law "further rigged the game" by taking power away from local lead- ers and giving it to unelected special interests, at the detriment of taxpay- ers, states a release. "The governor and General Assembly overstepped their author- ity by taking power away from municipal leaders in violation of the state constitution," it states. "A contract's terms cannot go on forever. That defies logic and is financially irresponsible," said North Providence Mayor Charles Lombardi. "If mayors and town managers can't negotiate to reduce costs, the alternatives are going to be cuts to important services or property tax increases. We can't allow that to happen." Personnel costs typically account for 70 percent or more of municipal and school expenses (wages, health care, pension and other benefits), most of which are governed by collective bargaining agreements. Meanwhile, those cities and towns with locally administered pension plans face $2.5 billion in unfunded liabilities. The lifetime contracts law pre- vents municipalities from negoti- ating fair contracts that reflect a community's priorities and ability to pay, said the community leaders. The law firm Greenberg Traurig, with attorney and former Providence Mayor Angel Taveras as lead counsel, is representing the plaintiffs. JEFF BRADLEY, left, vice president/community relations for Bristol County Savings Bank, and JESSICA KRYWOSA, right, vice president/digital strategy for Bristol County Savings Bank, present books from the bank's book drive to JOCELYNN WHITE, director of Books Are Wings. The bank also awarded a $1,000 grant to the Books Are Wings Gift of Literacy Campaign. Gamm hires Gravell as managing director PAWTUCKET – The board of direc- tors of The Sandra Feinstein-Gamm Theatre announces the hiring of Amy Gravell as managing director, effective Nov 11. Gravell was associ- ate executive director for the Boys & Girls Club of Pawtucket since 2005. Previous employers have included Tockwotton Home and The Prout School. Gravell maintains numerous professional affiliations, and cur- rently serves as president-elect to the board of directors for the Rhode Island Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals. She is also a member of the Advisory Commission on Arts and Culture for the city of Pawtucket. GRAVELL thank you for supporting our Valley Breeze advertisers. They make this free newspaper possible!

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