Bryant University President Ronald Machtley says he is "disappointed" that Governor Lincoln Chafee has signed a bill allowing Smithfield to charge the school for emergency services. Here's the full text of Machtley's official statement:
We are very disappointed that Governor Chafee did not veto the legislation previously approved by the Rhode Island General Assembly (S 0025 and H 5083).
We continue to believe this legislation is unconstitutional, unwarranted, and needlessly divisive. We will meet with the town in the hope that amicable and fair agreements can be reached to avoid expensive and time consuming litigation. However, the university will now undertake a review and consider all of its options, including litigation, until this matter is satisfactorily resolved.
Governor Lincoln Chafee says he signed the bill to encourage Bryant University and Smithfield town officials to come to the table for negotiations.
The measure calls for Bryant to work out a deal with Smithfield for what's known as a "payment in lieu of taxes" since the university's non-profit status exempts it from paying property taxes. Brown University, Providence College, RISD and Johnson & Wales have all made similar agreements with Providence and Cranston.
Until now, Bryant has resisted the idea of a payment, arguing that it already contributes to the Smithfield economy and provides services to the community.
If the university fails to reach an agreement with Smithfield leaders, the new legislation allows them to charge the university for police, fire and rescue services.