Councilman John J. Igliozzi, Chairman of the Council’s Committee on Finance, on Friday, June 14, invited his Council colleagues to attend budget hearings this week to discuss potential cuts to the budget to lower the tax burden on the city’s residents. The first meeting took place this evening.
“We have a moral and ethical obligation to help the most economically challenged neighborhoods,” stated Councilman John J. Igliozzi, Esq. and chairman of the Council’s Committee on Finance. “When we received the budget from the Mayor at the end of April it included an increase of $15M over last year and a tax plan that disproportionately raised the tax levy on the lowest valued houses; while the most valued homes would see a decrease in their taxes, which ironically is only 1% of the properties in our city. How is that fair? We hear the Mayor speak about ‘equity’ all the time, but his tax plan is nothing if not inequitable. It taxes the poorest while giving the most affluent the biggest breaks. The Council Leadership team proposed a plan that we believe to be equitable, but what we keep hearing from the community is that we must cut the budget to bring down the tax rate. That’s what we plan to do.”
The Committee on Finance has begun to go line by line through the budget to make the cuts needed to keep the city running, to keep city services level, and to lower the tax burden on all residents, not just the affluent. For every $1.2M in budget cuts, we can reduce the tax rate by $0.20. A deduction of $5M from the budget would be $1 off the tax rate.
Majority Leader and Vice-Chairwoman of the Councils’ Committee on Finance Jo-Ann Ryan stated, “We have worked very hard to bring to the table a plan that is not just equitable, but fair. We will continue to look at the budget to reduce inefficiencies and reduce spending so that we can lower the tax burden further. The Council was handed a budget that called for an increase in spending of $15M, and while many of those line items are worthy of support, we can’t take from the most vulnerable to pay for them. We are committed to thinking creatively and to working outside the box to make sure that everyone is starting at the same baseline.”
The Committee on Finance is planning on holding two other meetings this week on Wednesday, June 19, and Thursday, June 20, beginning at 5:00 PM. (Please note the Committee will adjourn at 6:45 on Thursday in preparation for the regularly scheduled City Council meeting and will reopen the meeting upon the meetings completion.) The Committee will gladly take public comment on the budget and tax plans at the end of each of these meetings.
Majority Leader Ryan continued, “It is paramount that citizens get a voice in decisions that affect them, and holding open meetings, and allowing for this discourse will ensure that residents will be heard. It’s not easy governing a city with massive obligations and liabilities, and for four years we have managed not to raise taxes, but with such a significant increase in spending in the Mayor’s budget we needed to create equity. I know the Committee looks forward to hearing from the community in the coming days.”
As the Council’s Committee on Finance moves through the process they plan to examine all plausible options to pass a budget that is fair and equitable for all of Providence.
You can view the proposed budget here: Budget Book.