Tonight, the Providence City Council Finance Committee approved the 737 million dollar city budget for the 2018 fiscal year. This budget is the result of the Elorza Administration and the Council’s mutual goal to produce a fiscally responsible city budget that includes no tax increases, invests in schools and neighborhoods, includes strategies to stimulate the economy and asks city departments to streamline operations and maximize efficiencies. The budget focuses on developing a rainy day fund that will help increase the city’s bond rating, thereby allowing the city to be more efficient in future borrowing practices, increasing economic development, building the city’s tax base, providing an excellent quality of life for city residents.
Council led initiatives in the budget include:
• The current penalty system for late tax payments assesses interest and penalties based on the total annual tax obligation, regardless of what quarter the payment is late in 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 the 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.
• This budget allocates money 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 $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 hobbled by the detrimental effects of long-standing blighted properties.
Investments in PVD Fest:
• Every year, PVD Fest becomes more popular and is a landmark event for the city. This budget allocates dollars to sustain and grow this important and successful festival.