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5/3/2019 MEDIA ADVISORY: Sen. Raptakis and Rep. Serpa call public attention to Monday’s Coventry Town Council meeting to hear presentation on Auditor General’s report on troubled sewer project
STATE HOUSE – Sen. Leonidas P. Raptakis (D-Dist. 33, Coventry, East Greenwich, West Greenwich) and Rep. Patricia A. Serpa (D-Dist. 27, West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick) are making the public aware of a presentation by the Auditor General Dennis Hoyle on his report regarding the long-troubled Coventry sewer program and the high costs being levied on Coventry’s taxpayers. 

The presentation will be given at the next Coventry Town Council meeting to be held on Monday, May 6 at 6:30 p.m. at the Coventry Town Hall Annex at 1675 Flat River Road.

The Auditor General completed the report at the request of Senator Raptakis, Representative Serpa, and other members of the Coventry delegation in the General Assembly.

“I thank Auditor General Hoyle for this comprehensive and factually accurate report about the troubles that have plagued the Coventry sewer project.  Since the program’s inception, I have called for an independent report about the outrageous costs being imposed on Coventry’s ratepayers and the report lays out the problems associated with the program quite clearly.  It also offers many solutions to these issues and I will be fighting for the report’s recommendations to be followed for the sake of Coventry’s residents and businesses,” said Senator Raptakis.

“I am very appreciative of the Auditor General’s report and the thorough examination that was undertaken regarding the costly and frustrating concerns that have arisen surrounding this project.  The costs that have been put upon the ratepayers are unsustainable and ridiculous, so I will be a strong advocate to ensure that the report’s recommendations are followed and put into place,” said Representative Serpa.

The report lays out a detailed analysis of the operations and implementation of the controversial sewer project and offers several recommendations to rectify concerns about the program, as well as, recommendations to ensure the project’s short-term and long-term financial viability and success.

In particular, the Auditor General points to legislation (2019-S 0201 / 2019-H 5798), sponsored by Senator Raptakis and Representative Serpa, which prohibits the town of Coventry from charging its sewage works’ users more than the interest the town has actually paid for its borrowed funds for sewage works’ purposes.

The report states, “The interest rate charged to homeowners has been higher at 6% than the Town’s actual borrowing costs which approximates 3% to 4%. Legislation has been introduced in the Rhode Island General Assembly to limit the interest rate charged to homeowners on sewer assessments. Aligning the Town’s costs of borrowing with the interest charged on the assessments is both appropriate and necessary to lessen the cost of sewer assessments on homeowners and businesses.”

“This project was already an exorbitant and unnecessary expense for so many in Coventry and the town should not be charging its residents any more than the actual cost of the project.  There are too many families, seniors, and those living on fixed incomes, who are facing true financial harm due to the mandate of this project.  This bill will protect the taxpayers from the large interest rates for a project they do not want in the first place,” said Representative Serpa.

Senator Raptakis and Representative Serpa have long-been champions for Coventry residents who live in sections of Coventry where the sewers have been expanded.  Those residents now have to pay for tie-in fees, use fees, and assessment fees, regardless of whether they possess a fully compliant septic system.

“It is imperative that the report’s solutions and recommendations are listened to and followed so that our town’s sewer system works for the ratepayers rather than driving them out of their homes.  This report also cost nothing to the taxpayers, unlike the Citrin Cooperman report which cost taxpayers $35,000 and offered no solutions to the ballooning problems associated with this project.  We are too far along with the project to turn back now, but hopefully, with the Auditor General’s report, we can correct the errors in implementation that have occurred and establish this project for future success,” concluded Senator Raptakis.

The Auditor General’s report can be found here.

For more information, contact:
Andrew Caruolo, Publicist
State House Room 20
Providence, RI 02903