PROVIDENCE, R.I.-The Providence City Council Finance Committee Thursday introduced and passed an ordinance that establishes greater taxpayer protections on a $40 million infrastructure bond question slated for the November ballot. A late submission of a bond request by the Elorza administration stated the administration was seeking both a 20-year $40 million infrastructure bond at a cost of $23.7 million and a 1-year $20 million bond anticipation note (BAN) at a cost of $445k. The proposal was introduced by the administration just a few weeks before the Secretary of State's ballot question submission deadline and was not mentioned to the Council during recent budget deliberations. The administration's inability to provide a detailed spending plan or deliver an accurate list of the city's infrastructure needs raised concerns among City Councilors about the proposal's lack of transparency and fiscal accountability. While the Council acknowledges that infrastructure improvements are needed, councilors are hesitant to overextend the city's financial capacity, which would increase borrowing costs. "We want to be good stewards for the people of Providence, and that requires being fiscally conservative in our efforts and looking ahead to the city's financial future," said Majority Whip Jo-Ann Ryan. Finance Committee Chairman John Igliozzi stressed the importance of financial timing: "If the city is going to issue bonds, we must be diligent in determining if this is the optimal time for the city." Tonight, the Finance Committee passed a new ordinance that implements fiscally prudent controls and prevents the city from incurring unnecessary debt and high risk loans. The ordinance takes a 3-prong approach to best serve the interests of the city's financial future and all taxpayers: 1-Demands transparency and spending plan: The ordinance requires that a spending plan must be thoroughly vetted and presented to taxpayers prior to the November ballot. Before the bond can receive electorate approval, the Council must approve the spending plan in a public process. 2-Prohibits risky borrowing: The ordinance mitigates risk by prohibiting bond anticipation notes, which expose cities to potential financial risks. Committee members cited concerns about the unknown liabilities surrounding the city's firefighter litigation, which could further damage the city's bond rating. The city's credit rating has plummeted in recent years and currently hovers just above "non-investment grade speculative"-a rating commonly known as "junk." According to the administration's own NRN report, increasing the city's debt burden will expose the city to a weakened credit rating. Majority Whip Jo-Ann Ryan echoed similar concerns: "We're willing to put the [bond] question before voters. We're not willing to expose taxpayers to bad financial practices like BANs." 3-Reaches every neighborhood: The Elorza administration initially sought upfront authority to approve bond issuance and complete authority of how the $40 million would be allocated. Because all taxpayers are required to repay the bond, the Finance Committee's ordinance mandates equitable distribution of infrastructure funding to every corner of the city for public infrastructure projects. "We are guaranteeing that every neighborhood has an equitable share and ensuring that neighborhood issues will be addressed," said Igliozzi. With these protective measures in place ahead of the ballot question, the Council will focus its efforts in the coming weeks to further vet the bond's financial viability and implications.