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Embattled pension board grapples with resignations, delayed checks

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WEST WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — The West Warwick Pension Board will be down to four members after a recent resignation, leaving no room for anyone to miss a meeting in the coming months.

Four members are needed for a quorum; a rule that impacted 24-year school department employee Phil Kelly, who filed his retirement paperwork on June 14.

“After the first meeting when they were supposed to approve my pension, I contacted my secretary,” Kelly recalled. “They told me they didn’t have a quorum for a meeting. We were depending on that money.”

Kelly said he is now down four checks but hopes Monday night’s meeting will clear him to receive the benefit.

If there’s a quorum.

“We’re dipping into funds that we hadn’t anticipated using,” Kelly said. “It’s frustrating.”

Pension board member Dave Lemoi submitted his resignation last week, with the town council scheduled to discuss the issue on Tuesday.

Neither Lemoi nor board chairman Al Heroux has responded to requests for comment at this time.

A lack of a quorum has forced the cancellation of three meetings so far this year, according to the secretary of state’s website.

The struggle to find board members was illustrated earlier this year with the appointment of Jerry Leite, who had been convicted of embezzling from a 2001 police fundraiser in East Providence.

Following criticism from the public, including the police union, Leite resigned.

Service on the board can often be thankless, demonstrated by an August meeting when an audience member stood up and accused the board of “bleeding our pension fund.”

“Five years for a new pension fund,” the person said. “Something’s wrong. You people have to be idiots.”

Kelly is as frustrated as anyone as he figures out how to pay his bills. He said he’s heard from other city employees concerned about delays when they retire.

“They asked me how long the process took,” Kelly said. “I told them I’m still in the middle of the process. I haven’t seen a dime.”

Data from the treasurer‘s office shows West Warwick’s
pension system is the third lowest-funded in the state at just over 23 percent.

The Coventry Police pension system is at the bottom with Cranston’s closed Police and Fire funds a tick higher.

Walt Buteau ( is a Target 12 investigative reporter for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow him on Twitter and on Facebook.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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