The General Assembly of Rhode Island has given the town of Smithfield the authority to bill Bryant University beginning next March for the actual cost of fire, police and rescue services supplied to the university.
Sen. Stephen R. Archambault, one of the bill's sponsors, said the bill's passage had become imperative due to officials in Smithfield and the university failing to reach an agreement.
"The end product of those many negotiation efforts and of this bill is about paying some fair amount to the community," said Senator Archambault. "The town continues to feel that the school needs to acknowledge that, while it is a nonprofit institution, it is also a resident of the town and receives – free – services that are paid with tax dollars."
Bryant University is urging Governor Chafee to veto the bill. The University said the bill is "heavy handed" and they will consider "legal options" if it passes.
According to Senator Archambault, while the town has been working on a financial agreement with Bryant, other institutions, including Brown, Providence College, and RISD have already reached agreement with their host communities and have begun making payments.
Bryant says it contributes over $800,000 annually in direct and in-kind support to the town including over $300,000 voluntarily.
Unless a financial agreement is reached or the bill is vetoed by the governor, Smithfield will be able to start sending the university bills by March 1st.