PAWTUCKET — David Clemente, a former City Councilor and longtime friend and campaign worker of Mayor Donald Grebien, has been hired as the city's new purchasing agent.
Clemente, who now lives in North Providence, began his duties at City Hall on Monday. He succeeds former purchasing agent Joseph Roque, who retired July 14 after more than 23 years with the city.
Mayor Donald Grebien informed the City Council of his appointment of Clemente in a July 28 letter. Because it is a union position (in Local 3960), the hire did not require approval of the City Council, but it was briefly acknowledged by the board at its Aug. 10 meeting. A representative of the city's Personnel Department said the purchasing agent job was posted both internally and advertised externally, but no internal applications were received.
According to the Personnel Department, the pay grade for the purchasing director's annual salary is in the range of $60,151 to $69,626.
In his letter to the City Council, Grebien noted that since 2003, Clemente has served as purchasing agent for the Rhode Island Supreme Court. He told the council that he brings “a wide range of relevant experience in modern procurement systems, centralized purchasing which he was instrumental in introducing to the Supreme Court, requests for proposals (RFPs) and bidding procedures as well as working in a publicly accountable environment.”
Grebien cited Clemente's experience on the City Council, where he represented the sixth district for four terms from 1999-2006. He added that he had served with Clemente during this time, and wrote that those who knew him from his council tenure are “well aware of his deep commitment to serving the public in a conscientious and forthright manner.”
The mayor told the council that Clemente also brings private industry experience from his four years as network administrator at American Insulated Wire (AIW), where he also served for over five years as purchasing agent.
Grebien also worked at American Insulated Wire prior to his becoming mayor.
Grebien wrote the council, “While I have also been privileged to count Dave as a friend even before we were colleagues at AIW and on the council, he was simply the most qualified candidate who applied for the position.”
He added, “I am fully confident his outstanding professional qualifications and practiced business approach will prove of great benefit in modernizing and improving our purchasing procedures and giving our constituents the outstanding customer service they expect and deserve.”
Clemente, who volunteered on Grebien's mayoral campaign, is a 1985 graduate of Shea High School and is pursuing an associate's degree in business administration at the Community College of Rhode Island.
He also completed Comptia A-plus and Microsoft Engineering programs at Roger Williams University in 1999.
Clemente told The Times on Monday that his first day on the job was going well and that he was looking forward to the work ahead. “It's like coming home again,” he said.
He added that he has the purchasing background in both the public and private sector that qualifies him for the position, and said, “I've got a lot of ideas.”
In other municipal employment matters, the City Council on Aug. 10 voted to approve a new, 6-year employment agreement for James DeCelles, who is the chief engineer for the Pawtucket Water Supply Board.
DeCelles joined the PWSB in 2005 as the assistant chief engineer and was appointed chief engineer in 2007. His previous three-year contract expired this past March. According to Angel Garcia, the city's personnel director, in negotiating the new pact, it was noted that DeCelles, in his previous contract, had waived his contractual raises in years two and three due to the city's financial concerns and was being paid at his first year salary of $117,500.
In the new contract, DeCelles will start at a salary of $125,900 and receive two raises of 1.5 percent over the six-year term of the contract, eventually earning $129,705 in year five. He has additionally agreed to a 25-percent co-pay for health and dental insurance and will be taking the same furlough days as other city employees even though he is not contractually obligated to do, Garcia said.
Several board members commented that while the six-year contract with raises might be questioned by some, DeCelles had given up two previous raises and had agreed to a 25-percent health insurance co-pay and furlough days.
DeCelles' job performance was praised by City Councilor Thomas Hodge, who also sits on the PWSB. Hodge said DeCelles had seen the PWSB through the completion of its new $40 million water treatment plant and substantial water system repairs. “I think we have a gem,” said Hodge, while City Councilor President David Moran added that DeCelles “is not someone the city wants to lose.”