The Fall River City Council is looking for answers as to where 157,000 dollars will be located to pay the city’s share of a new fire boat.
The financing was never approved or brought before the nine councilors in 2018, according to those in attendance at the latest council session.
Council discussed a transfer of just over 28,000 dollars from the EMS Stabilization fund into the Port Security fund during its first finance meeting in over two months.
Councilor Shawn Cadime asked Fall River Fire Chief John Lynch about a 25 percent share of the boat and how it would be paid for.
Lynch responded, "at the time, the administration wasn't in favor of using our funds. They were looking for other ways so at that point I was looking at different avenues for our portion. One of them was state money because sometimes they will appropriate funds like this."
Lynch continued and told Cadime about a grant the department accepted towards the two-year process of designing and constructing a new fire boat.
"We already accepted a grant and the money,” the Chief said. “The boat was being built and will take a two-year process."
Cadime and Lynch then engaged in a discussion about the lack of funding, as well as the lack of communication.
"I understand that,” Cadime said. “But Chief, my issue is that we accepted a grant without the necessary funding associated with it. To me, that's financially irresponsible and from a management standpoint it doesn't make any sense.”
The City Councilor continued, “so here we are, we have a boat and we're trying to figure out where the twenty-five percent is. I don't care what administration it was, that's just bad management across the board. I don't know how we allowed this to take place."
Lynch then talked about the requested transfer of funds.
"We have found the money,” he said. “Part of the money is right before you. There's 28,000 dollars transferred from the EMS stabilization fund to the Port Security fund."
Cadime argued that the city has enough issues without trying to secure 157,000 dollars as a pandemic continues. He also argued the development of the waterfront is still leagues away.
As the discussion continued, Councilor Linda Pereira indicated where she believed the fault lies in terms of miscommunication.
"If there's blame, it's on the previous administration because it is not the first thing that was ever snuck by the council,” she said. “And you know it. At this point, we already have the boat and have purchased it and now we have to come up with the money.”
“Was this the right way to handle it?” Pereira rhetorically asked. “Absolutely not. I agree with Councilor Cadime that this should not have been done this way. The former city administrator coming to council should have brought this to light and it didn't happen."
Council President Cliff Ponte also chimed in. He directed the interim city administrator in Mary Sahady to inform department heads that they need to come forward if there are other spending issues that had not been present beforehand.
"I take absolute exception to the fact that this council was not properly notified as well as the other city council in 2018,” he said. “Please, make sure that that memo goes out tomorrow to all department heads that if anything happens it comes before this council before the next meeting."
Chief Lynch said training on the boat will take about six weeks to complete. It will cost at least 5,000 dollars annually for maintenance and any repairs.