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Council OKs Housing Authority expansion

March 8, 2012

PAWTUCKET — After lengthy debate that spanned two meetings, the City Council on Wednesday approved an amended resolution that will increase the membership of the Pawtucket Housing Authority from five to seven commissioners.
Council members had been debating the need for the increase, which had been requested by Mayor Donald Grebien as a way of adding diversity to the panel. Several councilors had also questioned whether it was city or federal money being used for the $1,200 a year stipend that the commissioners had been receiving and said they objected to an increase in this line item if it was in the city budget.
Following the last council meeting, City Clerk Richard Goldstein had informed the council that the members of the Pawtucket Housing Authority (PHA) are paid by the city, and for many years, had received a stipend of $100 per month or $1,200 per year for a total of $6,000 annually for the five members. This year, with the council having approved a 25 percent reduction in stipends for boards and commissions in response to Grebien's call to eliminate these payments altogether, PHA members are receiving $75 per month or $900 a year, for a total of $4,500 for the five commissioners. At that funding level, adding two commissioners would add $1,800 per year, Goldstein wrote.
Goldstein also informed the council that the mayor has indicated that, as with all appointees to boards and commissions, he would ask the two new PHA members to forgo their compensation. In response to councilors' concerns about the cost, he said that Grebien has stated he will support reducing individual stipends to ensure that the total stipends paid for this year does not exceed $4,500.
Goldstein also told the council that the mayor had no problem amending the original legislation to require that two of the seven members of the PHA be either a resident under an existing lease of a public housing facility or a resident under an existing lease who is being assisted under the Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8) tenant-based program in the city, and be at least 18 years of age.
The council agreed with the new proposal, unanimously passing an amendment proposed by Councilor Christopher O'Neill to require that two of the seven PHA members be residents of a public housing facility or be assisted under a Section 8 housing program, and 18 years of age, as the mayor suggested. The council also voted 9 to 0 to approve the resolution in support of legislation increasing the membership of the PHA from five to seven commissioners.
Prior to the council meeting, the City Council's Board of License Commissioners tabled a decision on a request for a liquor license for International Club & Billar, at 327 Barton St. The board delayed the decision after questions came up about the owner's plans to install a second means of egress for the proposed nightclub in lieu of having to hire a fire detail, and is waiting for further input from the city's fire marshal.
Also, the board approved a Class T (theater) license for the House of Mood, 461 Main St., allowing beer and wine to be served one hour before and one hour after theater performances.

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