NORTH PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) -- North Providence Mayor Charles Lombardi says his plan to shrink and outsource the Department of Public Works would save taxpayers money-- but he also admits that a third of the employees would lose their jobs.
Residents had plenty to say -- plenty of it critical -- on the response time of the DPW during and after the Blizzard of 2013.
"We think we could provide better services in a more timely manner," said Mayor Lombardi.
It's not just snowstorms. Lombardi alleges the current staff slacks on a regular basis. Many work as little as five hours a day: "From when they come in, in the morning, and then they take a coffee break at nine, they have a lunch break and then they have another coffee break at two, and they're back at the garage at three to punch in at 3:30."
There's been a year of closed-door discussions. Now, Mayor Lombardi wants to move forward on shrinking the department. Jobs would be outsourced through a private company. That'd force seven people out of the existing 21 employees to be laid off. And shuffling would be in the offing: "It's our opinion that -- the right 14 individuals -- could manage that department."
The union, Rhode Island Council 94, alleges mismanagement is the problem instead. Union leader Kenneth DeLorenzo released a statement to Eyewitness News reading in part:
"Public works employees of the Town of North Providence are doing more with less. These same employees are substantially underpaid compared to neighboring communities. Proper management of the Public Works Department will increase productivity."
It's a question of numbers for Lombardi. His plan, he says, will save taxpayers nearly $500,000. That's about a quarter of the department's current funding (in fact, the funding totals $2.1 million).
"We don't think at this point and time that we're getting the best bang for our buck," he said.
Mayor Lombardi says it's not clear if city council members would have the final say on such downsizing plans; but he plans on speaking with all of them soon.
Copyright WPRI 12
A former Pawtucket police officer will wait another few weeks until he faces a judge on new felony rape and assault charges.
Rhode Island's health insurance marketplace is holding several enrollment assistance sessions to help people sign up for health coverage before a key deadline.
Patrick Ladapo was arrested in August after two women claimed he sexually assaulted them at a private party at which he was working as an exotic dancer.
The Rhode Island State House is staying open late this weekend so residents can check out its holiday decorations.
Flames broke out at about 1:15 a.m. at Oakwood Gardens on Smithfield Road.