Published 10/03/13

Statement from Bryant University

Bryant University is dismayed by the Town of Smithfield’s decision to refuse our overtures to work collaboratively, with the help of an independent consultant, on an agreement regarding Bryant’s contribution for public safety services. The consultant would be fully paid by Bryant and at no cost to the Town of Smithfield.

The council's proposal amounts to a 'wish list' of payments far out of step with the state law requirements

The General Assembly’s decision in the recently passed legislation requires Bryant to compensate the town for the actual cost of public safety services for Bryant that are uncompensated. Bryant is committed to reaching a fair and swift determination of what that cost is so that an agreement with the town can be achieved.

Even before this legislation, Bryant proposed an agreement to the town that would, in addition to the existing $800,000 of direct and in-kind support we already provide the town, provide additional support of $35,000 annually -- as well as a new program to donate 200 laptops each year to Smithfield High School at an estimated $80,000 to $100,000 annual cost, to make Smithfield High School one of the most technologically advanced institutions in New England. This proposal was a 33 percent increase in our contribution over the next ten years.

Unfortunately, it’s clear that this offer was never seriously considered by members of the Town Council, who never even responded to our proposal which they have had for the past three months. Instead, the Council is now proposing a “Memorandum of Understanding,” made without input or participation from Bryant, amounting to just a “wish list” of payments far out of step with the state law requirements and financially unfeasible for a non-profit, tax exempt organization dedicated to higher education.

Once more we ask the Town Council to work with us to determine the actual cost of public safety services that are provided to Bryant and not already compensated.

State law requires Bryant to begin paying for these services by April 1, 2014.  If the Town Council works in concert with us, in a fair and transparent process, we’re confident that we can reach an agreement far before that deadline.