June 25, 2017 – The Town Council will meet in regular session Monday night, June 26, for the first time since the “separation” with former Town Manager Tom Coyle and the appointment of Gayle Corrigan as acting town manager. “Implementation of One Town initiative” – shorthand for consolidation of town and school finance, IT, personnel and purchasing departments – is among items on the agenda.
Council President Sue Cienki said the council will also be working on a “30-60-90 day plan” to keep residents informed about the “One Town” consolidation progress.
“I think the end result people are going to be happy,” Cienki said in an interview June 25 about recent events, admitting that change was hard. “I think it’s going to work out fine.”
When asked if the town had been mismanaged financially, Cienki said, “It’s not that things were bad” under Coyle’s tenure. Instead, she said, having the outside Providence Analytics team come in allowed the council to see that “things can always be improved.”
In an interview on June 17, Cienki said, “I think that the town is in a good financial position but there are things happening at the state level that we know will trickle down to the town level. We’re making sure that we don’t go into crisis. I’m a long-range planner. I can see if we don’t get control of certain things, 10 years from now we could be in trouble.”
Cienki defended this year’s speedy budget process citing the July 1 start of the new fiscal year.
“We had to get it done,” she said, but she conceded that the change of town manager was not necessary by July 1. On the agenda for the Monday meeting is discussion around hiring a permanent town manager.
Corrigan took on the acting town manager position while still working as financial manager of the Central Coventry Fire District – she is splitting her time between those positions as well as any private work with Providence Analytics. Corrigan was brought in for the Coventry job on the strength of her performance in Central Falls, where she worked under EG’s own Bob Flanders, who was appointed Central Falls receiver after that town went bankrupt.
Cienki said she knew Flanders only slightly before recent events but had reached out to him in March after she learned that the school department had a structural deficit. (She was a co-chair of a fundraiser for Flanders, who is mulling a run for U.S. Senate, this past Saturday.) Flanders recommended Corrigan’s Providence Analytics. The Town Council put out an RFP (request for proposal) and PA was the only firm to submit a proposal, Cienki said.
“I didn’t know her,” Cienki said of Corrigan before they met this spring. “I now know her.”
The East Greenwich Pendulum reported Council Vice President Sean Todd saying that Coyle would receive no severance since he “resigned.” The official language, according to D’Agnostino, was that Coyle “separated” from the town.
“Sean’s statements were not accurate in the Pendulum,” Cienki said, but she refused to elaborate, citing confidentiality. On June 19, Town Solicitor Dave D’Agostino said Coyle would receive six months severance as well as any accrued sick and vacation days. Coyle’s contract gave him four weeks vacation and three weeks sick days per year.
Cienki lauded the School Committee’s decision to hire a curriculum director in January. Providence Analytics had recommended that the School Committee hire a curriculum director.
“Cudos to them,” Cienki said of the School Committee. “I think it’s a good result.”
– Elizabeth F. McNamara