Town seeks to spend its fed aid cash
Ambulance, water system fixes top list
By ohtadmin | on January 20, 2022 | Read the original article here
Jamestown is slated to receive $1.63 million in federal stimulus aid through the American Rescue Plan, and the administration is proposing to use that money for public safety and the municipal water system.
“If we use the money just the way we use the taxpayers’ money, and if you follow the metrics that we already do, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” Town Administrator Jamie Hainsworth said.
Hainsworth presented his proposal to the town council at its meeting Tuesday night. He is suggesting the councilors have a budget workshop to determine how to spend the money in similar fashion to the sessions leading up to the financial town meeting. The stimulus money, however, has criteria on how it can be spent.
According to Hainsworth, the U.S. Department of Treasury is releasing the money to municipalities and counties with an emphasis on public water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure. The primary proposal followed the Treasury’s suggestion with Hainsworth recommending the lion’s share of the grant to replace the water main from the corner of North Road and Narragansett Avenue to West Ferry.
“We recommend that you take a strong look at that,” he said.
The 6-inch cast-iron pipeline is 100 years old, and it services both schools. According to Mike Gray, director of public works, a rough estimate to replace that main would be about $1.2 million.
“It sounded great that we are getting $1.6 million, then you look at this project and you say, ‘Boy, did that go fast,’” Hainsworth said.
The second project recommended to be financed using the stimulus aid was the radio system that serves the police and fire departments. According to a memo from Police Chief Ed Mello, the system “has been experiencing repeated failures,” and those communications are essential to share interoperable information with the schools and public safety agencies across Rhode Island.
“The current system was purchased and installed in 2008,” Mello wrote. “It is a Motorola product comprised of multiple computer servers, radios consoles, power supplies, and antennas. Motorola has indicated that the product has reached end of life and will no longer supply parts or service.”
“It has hit a critical stage,” Hainsworth said. “We need to get going on that right away.”
The cost for the project was estimated at $180,000, but the council later in the meeting outlaid $95,374 for the first phase of that project. The remainder is proposed to be paid for through a grant.
The final project recommended by Hainsworth to be financed through the American Rescue Plan is a replacement for an 18-year-old ambulance. The councilors have been setting aside money for a new ambulance, but Hainsworth suggested using the grant to pay for the vehicle.
“We could spend the whole $1.6 million just on water, but we thought the communications system for the fire and police departments is essential, and so is the ambulance, and they all fit under the criteria,” Hainsworth said.
The earmarked money for the rescue unit would be reappropriated to the fire department’s five-year plan; most notably, a ladder truck estimated to cost $1 million is due for replacement.
“That way we can start saving for those bigger expenditures that will start coming down the road in the next five years,” he said.
When asked about broadband, Hainsworth suggested bypassing that project with grant money because the state legislature and the Greater Newport Chamber of Commerce both have pending plans to improve Internet connection. Potential money through those plans could make the project cheaper.
According to Hainsworth, all projects paid for through the grant have to be completed by 2027. The councilors have to agree to the spending by Dec. 31, 2024.
“The last thing we want to do is to put it off until that day,” he said.
The council was amenable to scheduling a workshop to decide whether to accept Hainsworth’s recommendations.
“Designate a night just to do this,” he said. “Look at the way that you normally spend money, and don’t deviate from that.”