Fiscally responsible budget streamlines spending, reforms tax penalties, improves quality of life in every Providence neighborhood
PROVIDENCE, RI— The Providence City Council tonight approved first passage of the $737M city budget for the 2018 fiscal year. The budget is the result of strong collaboration and shared goals between the City Council and Elorza Administration to produce a fiscally responsible budget that includes no tax increases, invests in schools and neighborhoods, includes strategies to stimulate the economy and ensures city departments streamline operations and maximize efficiencies. The 2018 budget strengthens contributions to the rainy day fund to increase the city’s bond rating and allow for more efficiency in future borrowing practices, increases economic development, builds the city’s tax base, and improves quality of life for all city residents.
“This budget prioritizes spending to support our public schools and quality of life in all of our neighborhoods,” said Acting Council President Sabina Matos. “It also includes important investments to our rainy day fund and provides much-needed tax reform.”
“I am pleased to announce that we’re holding the line on tax increases for the third year in a row, contributing to the rainy day fund, and investing in quality of life initiatives to benefit all Providence neighborhoods,” said Finance Committee Chairman John Igliozzi.
Council-led budget initiatives include:
• The current penalty system for late tax payments assesses interest and penalties based on the total annual tax obligation, regardless of the quarter in which the payment is late, or if all other payments have been made on time. This new budget reforms the appropriation ordinance to end this aggressive practice, replacing it with a fair policy that will charge interest and penalties based only on the amount of the quarterly tax obligation for which the late payment is assigned.
Traffic Calming and Nuisance Control
• Allocation of $300,000 to build on a revenue-neutral neighborhood traffic calming program to be led by the Providence Police Department. Successfully piloted last year in Ward 5, this program funds placement of police detail in neighborhood traffic hot spots where speeding, lack of compliance with stop signs, and other infractions pose public safety issues. This program increases police visibility in neighborhoods across the city, and also allows additional officers to be more nimble in enforcement of noise ordinance violations. This successful program is revenue-neutral, as the revenue raised by fines levied pays for the cost of the detail.
• Allocation to run a second cohort of police and fire academies.
Neighborhood Infrastructure Program
• Allocation of $1.5 million dollars to the Council’s successful Neighborhood Infrastructure Program. Initiated last year, this popular program paid for parks and bricks and mortar improvements to neighborhoods across the city, including significant upgrades and renovations to city pools, school buildings, recreation centers, parks and sidewalks.
Blight Removal Pilot Program
• Allocation of $200,000 to pilot a city-wide blight removal program. While the Mayor’s Every Home program focuses on rehabbing abandoned properties around the city, some structures are too costly to rehab and are a persistent source of neighborhood blight and infringe on the quality of life for surrounding homes. This program will target demolition of these properties, and turn the remaining lot into public green space or expansion of yards for neighboring properties. This program will be administered by the Department of Inspection and Standards and will provide much-needed relief for communities impacted by the detrimental effects of long-standing blight.
Investments in PVD Fest
• PVD Fest is a landmark event for the city, and becomes more popular each year. The 2018 fiscal year budget allocates dollars to sustain and grow this important and successful festival.