Monday’s Town Council meeting saw a fairly light agenda, as the council approved a resolution amending the Homestead Exemption and an ordinance amending the amount of used car and rental licenses issued by the town.
Prior to the business portion of the meeting, a moment of silence was observed following the Pledge of Allegiance to remember John DiMaio, a retired Johnston Police captain and former council member who recently lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. In an effort to honor and remember DiMaio, as well as to raise awareness about pancreatic cancer, which is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States, a resolution designating the month of November as “Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month” in the Town of Johnston was passed.
“John was a true public servant and gave it his all when it came to public service,” said Mayor Joseph Polisena. “It’s a big loss for the town. He died much too young and will be sadly missed.”
Addressing the action portion of the meeting, Town Solicitor Billy Conley said the Homestead Exemption, which is a discount on taxes, was amended so that it no longer applies to residential properties that contain more than three dwelling units, even if they’re unoccupied. This resolution prohibits landlords from taking advantage of the exemption when they are not living in the residence.
Conley said it was recommended to amend the ordinance pertaining to car sales and rentals in the town to be more aligned with the population density of the town. The amendment changes the current limitation of a maximum of 62 car licenses and 25 car rental licenses to a maximum of 70 car licenses and 10 car rental licenses.
In other council action, two appointments were made to the Library Board of Trustees to fill two expired terms. The appointees were Joseph Rotella and Raymond Bruzzese, who Polisena said would be an asset to the board.
“His résumé was one of the strongest I’ve seen. He has several college degrees. He’s bright and articulate and will be a good fit for the board,” he said.
Two claims were also approved for forwarding to the solicitor, one of which was from resident Carol Furtado who maintains the town owes her approximately $20,000 that was promised to her by former Fire Chief Victor Cipriano. She is requesting the payments come out of his pension, and because the town is in control of the assets, Conley explained the town, specifically Finance Director Joseph Chiodo in his official capacity, must appear in court a week from Monday when the matter will be heard in Superior Court.
According to court documents, Furtado entered into numerous contracts with Cipriano, totaling approximately $20,941, which covered Furtado for paying bills for Cipriano since 2010. The documents go on to say that there was an agreement between Furtado and Cipriano that Cipriano would pay back Furtado by the end of 2011.
“On numerous occasions the Plaintiff, Carol Furtado, has demanded of the Defendant, Victor Cipriano, to make payment on the said money but has failed to do,” the case states.
According to court documents, Cipriano has admitted that he owes at least $17,000 of the $20,941 but still has refused to make payment to Furtado. It goes on to say that Cipriano, at the present time, receives a pension from the town worth approximately $6,500 per month from the Town of Johnston Pension Retirement Board.
Furtado has requested that the $6,500 from Cipriano’s monthly pension checks be paid to her from the town’s pension fund in “an amount that is fair and reasonable to pay off the debt owed by the Defendant to the said Plaintiff.”
During the requests to be heard portion of the meeting, resident James Petrella spoke of his concerns pertaining to garbage and rats.
“An ordinance to cover trash cans was passed last month and that’s a start, but the wind blows the covers off the cans and you can’t always find them. Most people won’t put covers out because they can’t find them,” he said, asking if residents were being fined for not covering cans.
Polisena said residents are not being fined, but the town is reminding homeowners to bag their garbage before placing it in the binds.
“We’re finding that raw garbage is being placed in trash cans that’s not in a trash bag or plastic bag,” he said.
Petrella said two rats can produce 1,000 rats in five years and suggested abandoned houses and buildings should be checked to ensure rats aren’t dwelling inside, especially abandoned structures. He used Stuart’s Plaza as an example, which he said has been around for about 20 years.
“Are buildings [checked] for rats before they’re torn down?” he asked. “I want the council to go further and have abandoned houses and buildings checked out. I know a guy that found a rat and I have a neighbor that found five rats. Vacant buildings need to be checked.”
Code Enforcement Officer Peter Delponte said as part of a demolition permit, it’s required to conduct a rat abatement program.