Valley Breeze

The North Providence Breeze 04-07-2021

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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10 NORTH PROVIDENCE APRIL 7-13, 2021 | VALLEY BREEZE | NORTH PROVIDENCE EDITION of controller and keeping Vallee just as finance director, Lombardi said he will also move Vallee out of the union and away from the extra ben- efits that brings. "Are we all perfect? No," he said of his reaction to the WPRI report and the fact that paying Vallee salaries for two positions was a violation of the charter. "But if there are any deficien- cies here, I will address them." He added, "I hang my hat on the bottom line," and that is the fact that Vallee's work is consistently great for North Providence and its taxpayers. He said he makes no apologies for managing the town in the best way he knows how. "In this new budget, it will be $133,000 for a finance director only," he said. "This woman will be finance director as long as I'm mayor." The Breeze asked why Lombardi didn't remove Vallee from the union controller position sooner. "That's a good question," he said, but it will be fixed now. The charter allows someone work- ing two positions to only be paid for the higher of the two. Vallee receives $78,393 as the controller and another $54,911 as finance director. Council President Dino Autiello agreed this week that the $133,000 base salary for Vallee as finance director is fair, saying he looked around last week at comparable com- munities and found salaries between $120,000 and $130,000. Going for- ward, he said, Vallee must hold one position and not two, and he said he was clear with Lombardi about that. With longevity pay factored in, Vallee earned $144,000 in base pay last year. Autiello said he wasn't clear on the breakdown for the $33,825 payout Vallee received after a settlement on six years of contractual raises with the town. The town's charter was cre- ated in the 1970s under Mayor Sal Mancini and is very "mayor-heavy," Autiello said, with the council given no opportunity to be in on union negotiations or to even see a break- down of certain expenditures. "We don't get payroll records when we do budget hearings," he said. During last year's budget discussions, he said, the "convoluted" topic of Vallee serving in both positions came up and some council members came away believing she would be paid two full salaries while others thought something else. He said he believed she would be paid out-of-rank union pay in addition to her finance direc- tor's salary, not a full extra salary. On the $33,850 in one-time ret- roactive pay that other members of the union received after a settlement, Lombardi said many other employ- ees also received large totals because of their longevity. The payouts, he said, were made based on six years of having no contract in place with the Local 1033 Laborers union. He said the issue at the center of that standoff was whether the union would allow him to promote people based on their per- formance and not just based on senior- ity, and he ended up winning that fight. "I needed the opportunity to put the best possible team together," Lombardi said. Of the 58 employees who ben- efited from that $758,467 settlement two years ago, 14 of them received $15,000 apiece or more under con- tractual terms. Those employees are: Ron Starnino, at $15,080; Julie Zanni, at $15,158; Troy Campopiano, at $15,398; Larry Labbadia, at $15,487, Richard Pezzillo, at $15,524; Chris Lesik, at $15,669; Al Costa, at $16,322; Romeo D'Andrea, at $16,471; James Grimes, at $16,561; Mike Carnevale, at $17,950; Rich Arcaro, at $19,732; Mike Mooney, at $20,013; Bernie Salvatore, at $26,737; and Vallee, at $33,825. Of the six years factored in the settlement, Vallee was only finance director for the last two of them, noted Lombardi He said he's tried to be consistent in his push to combine two positions into one to save money. Lombardi said having Vallee fill both roles at $133,000, after years without a finance director after the departure of former Finance Director Justin Cambio, saves the town tens of thousands of dollars in not having to hire a $120,000 finance director plus $70,000 controller with an accom- panying $22,000 town health care package, and Vallee is also easily the best person for the job of oversee- ing North Providence's $110 million budget. "I cherish her knowledge, and I take full credit for her and responsi- bility for her," he said of the 22-year employee. "She's going to be here as long as I'm here." Vallee was here before his tenure, said Lombardi, when the town was running a $10 million deficit and was borrowing $10.5 million to pay its bills. It has gone from junk bond status to A1-rated with the agencies, with a $15 million surplus and that same amount of cash on hand. The town was without a finance director three years ago, he said, and Vallee kept taking on more of the duties of the position. Vallee served as acting finance director in North Providence from 2007 to 2011, but resigned as the Rhode Island Ethics Commission investigated her for obtaining a federal loan she wasn't entitled to through the town. She was forced to pay back the $48,000 loan plus $78,000 in damages under an agreement signed in the summer of 2013, and was also fined $8,000 by the Ethics Commission. According to WPRI, Lombardi said she also received $32,000 in out- of-rank pay back in 2017 because she was serving finance director then, but the audit for that year lists John McNamee as acting finance director. The Breeze reported in May of 2018 that McNamee was stepping down. Vallee earned just over $100,000 combined in both 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 before her salary bal- looned by 45 percent with the com- bining of the two positions. The Valley Breeze is committed to keeping quality news stories like this one free to our readers. You can be a huge part of this local journalism success story by making a one-time or monthly contribution to what we do every week at valleybreeze.com/sup- port. Thank you as always for reading. earlier. There were 2,595 total offense reports taken in 2019, dropping to 2,240 total reports in 2020. Arrests were also down overall, with 1,218 in 2019 and 1,142 in 2020. Total calls for service were down only slightly, from 38,302 in 2019 to 37,866 in 2020, according to the data. One outlier in the data can be found in drug charges and other "crimes against society," with drug/narcotic violations, drug equipment violations, weapons law violations, and pornog- raphy/obscene materials increasing a combined 51 percent. Drug violations were up 59 percent, from 22 in 2019 to 35 in 2020, and weapon violations were up 29 percent, from 14 to 18. Martins said most drug charges were related to driver stops for other offenses, and they could be related to anything from a small amount of mar- ijuana to large-scale heroin possession. Such offenses are "usually a secondary discovery," he said, and can be "hit or miss" depending on who gets stopped. On violent crimes, the town saw no murders in 2020, down from one kill- ing in 2019, while kidnapping stayed even, with one each year. Rape cases doubled, from two to four, while other sex-based crimes decreased from nine in 2019 to five in 2020. Aggravated assaults increased by 5 percent, from 38 in 2019 to 40 last year. Simple assaults decreased by 12 percent, from 176 total cases to 155 cases, while intimidation cases were up 125 percent, from eight in 2019 to 18 in 2020. In the crimes against property cat- egories, larcenies related to vehicles were up, while robberies from build- ings were down. Robberies were up from two cases in 2019 to seven last year, arsons were up one, from two to three crimes, burglary/breaking and entering cases were down 38 percent, from 50 cases to 31 cases, pick-pocketing and extor- tion blackmail each saw one case in 2020, after none in 2019, shoplifting cases were down 45 percent, from 44 to 24, and larcenies from buildings were down 14 percent, from 21 cases to 18. Martins said the much lower num- bers of incidents of breaking and entering is almost entirely due to more people being at home in 2020. Similarly, with fewer people being on the road, there was a big reduction in collisions, from 1,108 to 861, or a reduction of more than 20 percent. The increase from two to seven robberies is significant, he said, and he attributes in part to there being more opportunity for people to easily hide behind masks to commit crimes such as robbing banks or convenience stores. Larcenies of motor vehicles were up 13 percent, from 30 to 34 cases, larce- nies of vehicle parts were up 67 per- cent, from 12 to 20, all other larcenies were up 62 percent, from 21 to 34, motor vehicle theft cases were down 6 percent, from 50 to 47, and counter- feit/forgery cases were up 85 percent, from 13 to 24. The "all other" larcenies category was largely due to the work of porch pirates stealing packages, said Martins. Fraud cases related to false pretenses and swindling were up 31 percent, from 16 cases to 21, credit card cases were up one, from 10 to 11, and fraud impersonation cases were down one, from two to one. Other fraud/embezzlement catego- ries were down from 11 cases in 2019 to two cases in 2020, while stolen property cases remained even at eight and eight. Vandalism cases were down 11 percent, from 121 to 108. Cases involving bad checks being passed were down 56 percent, from nine to four, disorderly conduct cases were down 4 percent, from 243 to 233, DUI offenses were down 26 per- cent, from 82 to 61, non-violent family offenses were even, at four each year, liquor law violations were down from one to zero, and offenses related to trespassing were down 33 percent, from six to four. Martins said some people will want to point to the fact that having bars closed contributed to fewer DUI cases, but he said the 61 cases showed there were still plenty of people find- ing a way to get intoxicated and be "a menace" behind the wheel. All other offenses were down 11 percent, from 422 to 375. pandemic, said Bonaminio, members felt that now is the time to give back with an event. A spring craft vendor event will benefit North Providence High School students, in that proceeds will go to them, but it will also help many local small business people, said Bonaminio, as they'll have a chance to sell their wares at the event on Saturday, April 17, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., in the NPHS parking lot, 1828 Mineral Spring Ave. The rain date is Sunday, April 18. This outdoor vendor event gives everyone the chance to finally get back together but in a safe way with distancing and masks required to be in place, said Bonaminio. "Come shop local craft vendors and enjoy lunch from Haven Brothers food truck," states a release. More than 50 vendors contacted organizers, but only about 30 will be included due to limits on space. Bonaminio said businesses were cho- sen on a first-come, first-served basis, but organizers tried to avoid dupli- cate offerings as much as possible. Proceeds will go toward anything students decide, including if they have a senior night or some other event. Bonaminio said C.A.P.S. hasn't been doing much fundraising this year, so the April 17 event will be an important one. She said they're hop- ing for a great turnout. Email NPHSCAPS@gmail.com for more. CRIME From Page One FUNDRAISER From Page One VALLEE From Page One LOMBARDI 3rd Generation Family Owned and Operated Geoffrey Greene ~ LfD Jennifer Greene faGan ~ LfD 2251 Mineral Spring Avenue, North Providence, RI 231-9307 • www.robbinsfuneralhome.com

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