Council President Gary Cote began Monday night's meeting by presenting a proclamation recognizing the Coventry Public Works, Parks and Recreation, Police and Fire departments as well as members of the Emergency Operations Committee for their performance during and following the Blizzard of 2013.
"Sitting in our position, we always get calls and emails about what is wrong in the Town of Coventry, so it was really nice to get calls, emails and actually visits to my house from people in my neighborhood about how they appreciate the job our DPW and other departments did during the storm," said Cote.
Chuck Smith of DPW explained that to cover the 64 sq. miles of Coventry, the department has 23 drivers who treat about 200 miles of road in town.
"Personally, I think they did a phenomenal job," Cote continued. "In my opinion Coventry was way above the curve compared to other communities in the state."
After hearing testimony from Building Official Bruce Zaloudek, the Town Council approved the amendment of Section 106-4 of the Coventry Code of Ordinances with regard to permit fees. Town Manager Tom Hoover stated that the Town currently charges very low building fees in comparison to other RI municipalities and has been issuing a smaller charge for larger projects as opposed to a larger charge for more expensive projects - a practice that will also be changed. Zalodic explained that in the 20 years he has worked for the Town of Coventry, the fees have never been revised.
"I've been here for 20 years and this is the first time we've asked for an increase in our fees," said Zaloudek. "I feel that this will bring us more in line with what the rest of the state is charging and will give our inspectors more incentive to work a little harder."
Approved fee increases:
$100,000.01 to $500,000: $505 base fee plus $5 (up from $3) per $1,000 between $100,000.01 and $500,000
$500,000.01 and up: $1,705 base fee plus $6 (up from $2) per $1,000 over $500,000
Projects between $50,000 and $100,000 will still be charged a base fee of $305 plus $4.00 per $1,000 between $50,000 and $100,000, however this valuation bracket is now the lowest instead of the highest.
"These increases are in line with what happens throughout the state," said Hoover. "This doesn't put us at the highest in the state, but somewhere in the middle."
Council members approved a resolution to issue school-related debt through the Rhode Island Health and Educational Building Corporation (RIHEBC). This council resolution is standard procedure in the process of utilizing the school improvement bonds approved by voters on Nov. 6. RIHEBC will hold the third and final hearing regarding Coventry's bonds this week and requires Town Council approval by that time.