Published 03/25/14

Text of March 17 letter to Smithfield town manager regarding Bryant proposal

Bryant University sent the following letter to Smithfield Town Manager Dennis Finlay on March 17, 2014:

Dear Mr. Finlay:

President Machtley has forwarded your letter of March 7 to me, as the spokesperson for the Bryant University negotiation team. This team consists of three senior members of the Bryant University community: Professor of Management Roger Anderson, a resident of Smithfield; Farokh Bhada, Associate Vice President for Business Affairs; and me, Bryant’s Executive Director of University Relations.

Since the negotiating team was appointed, we have taken our charge of resolving this matter very seriously. At our expense, our team engaged the services of Charles River Associates (CRA), a nationally respected consultant, to calculate the Town’s “actual costs” of providing police, fire, and rescue services to the University as required under the provisions of the new statute.

On February 7, we were prepared to submit to the Town Council for its review a detailed written report from CRA setting forth its review and calculations of the Town’s costs of providing police, fire, and rescue runs to the campus. The Town Council requested that this report be provided in the forum of an open meeting which was held on February 25.

At the February 25 meeting of the Town Council, after expending months of hard work, we provided a detailed presentation by CRA and a written report. Based on CRA’s findings, we submitted on behalf of the University a detailed and specific proposal which offered to compensate the Town for police, fire, and rescue service runs to the campus.

The terms of our February 25 proposal go well beyond what is required by the new state statute, with Bryant agreeing to pay on a per-run basis virtually what the Town requested for each future police, fire, and rescue run, even though the written CRA report demonstrated that these costs were substantially higher than “actual costs” for such runs.

In addition to the new financial contributions for police, fire, and rescue services, the proposal continues all of the current support, payments, and services that Bryant provides to the Town. These voluntary contributions add significant value to the community. In total, based on historic use of emergency services, the proposal could bring Bryant’s payments and contributions to Smithfield to more than $10 million over the next 20 years.

We have made it clear that we do not believe this matter can be successfully and fairly resolved in public debate with members of the Town Council. Calculating the “actual costs” of police, fire and rescue services as required by the new statute is a matter that reasonable people can determine after a thoughtful and objective review of costs the Town incurs to provide such services prepared in accordance with commonly accepted standards.  The CRA report provides such an analysis and Bryant’s proposal offers to compensate the Town even more than “actual costs” of providing such services.

Our February 25 written proposal was submitted in the spirit of achieving a prompt resolution of this matter so that both parties can move forward and work harmoniously together to service the best interests of the Town and its citizens.

We invite the Town Council to provide us with a written response to the terms of our proposal and, if our proposal in the Council’s view does not provide compensation that reimburses it for the “actual costs” of providing such emergency services, we ask you to indicate specifically where you believe our February 25 proposal fails to compensate the Town for its “actual costs” of providing emergency services to the campus.

We continue to hope that our February 25 proposal will meet with the approval of the Town Council.

Please feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions concerning the February 25 proposal.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth O’Neil

Bryant University Negotiating Team