A third vote will be taken on the Bristol County Water Authority's legal contract, the agency announced on Thursday.
Board Chairman Allen Klepper confirmed in an interview that the 4-3 vote taken on Jan. 16 — the second time in a month that the group voted on the matter — was one "aye" vote short of the number needed to approve the contract, according to state law.
"We need to take another vote," Klepper said. "Usually, in the past, we have voted on almost all issues with a majority of a quorum."
However, Executive Director Pamela Marchand issued a statement on Thursday that explained the contract requires a majority of five votes.
In the statement, Marchand wrote that "a discrepancy was discovered" between the agency's by-laws and the state law governing the agency, the Bristol County Water Act.
The by-laws — essentially the rulebook for the BCWA — state: "any action to be taken by the Authority may be authorized by resolution approved by a majority of the members of the Board of directors present at any regular or special meeting at which a quorum is present."
Since there were seven board members present on Wednesday night, four votes would be enough to approve the contract under the by-laws.
However, the state law requires "a resolution [to be] approved by not less than five of the directors at any regular or special meeting at which a quorum is present," meaning that the legal services pact needed five votes to pass.
"Therefore, in order to concur with both the By-Laws and the BCW Act, the Board of Directors of the Bristol County Water Authority will hold a new Vote on the legal services, whereby five (5) votes will be needed to take action," Marchand said in the statement.
On Jan. 16, Klepper and board members John Jannitto of Warren, Paul Bishop of Bristol, and Vice Chairman William Gosselin voted in favor of renewing the BCWA contract with Cameron & Mittleman.
Kevin Fitta and Robert Allio of Barrington, and Ray Palmieri of Warren voted against.
Allio switched from his previous vote.
The board decided to hold the second vote after residents complained about the handling of the initial vote on Dec. 20, claiming that a Dec. 18 session was held illegally because it had not been properly advertised under the Rhode Island Open Meetings Law.