Since being sworn in as the Councilor representing Ward 8 in January 2019, Councilman James Taylor has made a tradition of holding Bingo nights for his elderly constituents.
In Ward 8, there are three high rises housing elderly community members along with two high rises that provide low-income housing. Because these high rises are home to a concentrated number of constituents with specific needs, Councilman Taylor makes a point to visit frequently.
“Bingo nights are an opportunity for me to engage with my constituents, and make sure their needs are being met in their building and their community, as well as a time for us to come together as a neighborhood and have fun,” said Councilman Taylor.
Snacks, gift cards, and raffles are available to all attendees so that everybody has a chance to win. Council staff member Stephanie Jourdain joins to call out bingo numbers and translate for Spanish speaking constituents. State Senator Ana Quezada and State Representative Scott Slater also often come to play bingo and address the needs of their constituents.
In addition to Bingo Nights, Councilman Taylor hosted barbecues at the two low-income housing high rises in his ward, where the residents are often much younger. He recently provided domino tables for their community rooms, which have been a big hit.
Councilman Taylor continued “The only time high rises are full with visitors is on Christmas and Thanksgiving. I want Ward 8 constituents of all ages and backgrounds to know that they are an important part of our community and I am here to help them year-round.”
Story by Abigail Appel, University of Rhode Island, City Council Communications Intern
Providence City Council Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan, (Ward 5) announced today that Eaton Street shall be returned to its original traffic pattern.
“Making our City streets safe and accessible to all is one of my top priorities,” stated Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan. “We need to balance all new initiatives with the needs of the surrounding community, particularly when it is a matter of public safety. After hosting two community meetings and hearing from a cross-section of the Elmhurst neighborhood where residents articulated their incisive observations with the Eaton Street traffic redesign, I am pleased to report that the Mayor has agreed with us.”
Majority Leader Ryan continued, “I want to thank my neighbors for working together to address these genuine issues of public safety. Our voices were heard loud and clear. Further, I also want to emphasize that my neighbors are not opposed to creating bike lanes on City streets. We simply ask the City administration to be mindful of the public engagement and vetting process.”
After several meetings with Mayor Jorge Elorza and his department Directors, Majority Leader Ryan was successful in convincing City officials to have Eaton Street returned to its original traffic pattern. The remedial work will commence in a timely fashion.
Ryan continued, “I applaud the Mayor’s vision for a City that is responsive to multimodal transportation. However, this plan that was rolled out for Eaton Street did not fit or serve this community’s needs. Please note, I want to genuinely thank Mayor Elorza and his Directors for their professionalism and their willingness to engage with us to reconsider this plan implementation.”
Therefore, due to these recent developments, the community meeting which was tentatively scheduled on October 2, 2019 at St. Pius V Church has been canceled.
As any additional information regarding this important community issue arises, such news will be shared here on the City Council web page and on social media.
Senior Deputy Majority Leader Nicholas J. Narducci Jr. (Ward 4) today was on site where work is beginning on the Hawkins Street Bridge Restoration Project.
“The closing of the Hawkins Street Bridge has caused many issues in our neighborhood,” stated Senior Deputy Majority Leader Nicholas J. Narducci Jr. “I am happy to report that the first phase of this project is beginning. Crews were on site today to remove trees and brush to make way for the rebuilding project. Although the bridge will not be reopened for some time, this is a positive step.”
Hawkins Street Bridge was closed to traffic in October of 2017 after the Rhode Island Department of Transportation found significant deterioration on several of the support beams. Narducci continued, “The closure has not only impacted residents but many businesses in the neighborhood. I have been an outspoken advocate working with the City and the State to get the bridge work done. I want to thank RIDOT and the City for working to get this bridge fixed for our residents.”
As work progresses Senior Deputy Majority Leader Narducci will provide updates on the status of the project.
City Council President Sabina Matos (Ward 15) and Council President Pro Tempore Michael Correia (Ward 6) tonight introduced a resolution that creates a special commission to study a progressive tiered property tax in the city of Providence.
“There is not enough predictability for residents when it comes to their property taxes,” stated City Council President Sabina Matos. “After this year’s revaluations we saw property values skyrocket in many areas of the City. Some property values rose as much as 50%. The hardest-hit areas were also communities where a majority of families live on fixed incomes. Creating a progressive property tax is a way for all residents to be on equal footing when it comes to their annual tax bill. Earlier this year we were successful getting enabling legislation in the State Senate to put forth a tiered property tax structure but were ultimately unsuccessful in the House of Representatives. We will again work with our state colleagues so that we can have this in our City’s toolbox if needed. In the meantime, I am bringing together professionals from various relevant fields of expertise to help us assess whether a progressive tiered property tax is right for our communities.”
The city of Providence is required by State law to have a full property revaluation every nine years, and a statistical revaluation every three years, and this Commission will look at best practices to help modulate those swings in values. The accurate and timely valuation of property is crucial to ensuring equitable and predictable assessment of local taxes, but because the particular standards and procedures for revaluations vary broadly across different jurisdictions, the Council believes they need to address this issue head-on.
In May of this year the City Council leadership team proposed a progressive tiered tax plan that would have given a 40% exemption for the first $350K of assessed value for all homeowners, and then a 28% exemption on the assessed value after that. The Council’s leadership and finance teams felt that this was an equitable way to provide much-needed relief for homeowners who were facing a greater increase on their property tax liability than in years past.
Council President Matos continued, “This is priority for my leadership team, and I want to thank Council President Pro Tempore Michael Correia, Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan, and Majority Whip John J. Igliozzi for their guidance and steadfast support to ensure that our residents have predictability when it comes to their annual property tax bills.”
The goal of the Commission will be to study and make recommendations regarding the property tax tiered system and to make further recommendations regarding appropriate changes to City procedures and State law, including study and analysis of the overall revaluation process. The Commission will consist of at least nine members appointed by the City Council President and will issue a report within 120 days of the date appointments are made to the Commission.
Council Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan (Ward 5), Deputy Majority Leader Mary Kay Harris (Ward 11), and Councilman David A. Salvatore (Ward 14) introduced two resolutions requesting that the City of Providence provide status reports and updates on street and sidewalk projects and their expenditures associated with the $45M Bond that was approved by the City Council in 2017.
“To date the Council has had not been updated regarding what Bond proceeds have been expended,” stated Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan. “I have been advocating for accountability for the work that was authorized under this bond for months. When constituents question why certain streets are being paved or not, and why the City is installing ill-conceived street redesign plans they deserve to know how the City is spending their tax dollars. I also want to know how much of these funds were used to develop the Mayor’s ‘Great Streets’ initiative. I am not an opponent of bicycle lanes, in fact, I support creating an urban environment conducive to multimodal transportation. However, that was not what the City Council had in mind when we authorized the City to secure this bond funding. Our goal was to make sure that we spend precious taxpayer dollars to pave and fix as many streets and sidewalks as possible, and to ensure accountability in the process.”
The resolution introduced by Majority Leader Ryan and Deputy Majority Leader Harris focusses on the portion of the funding that was allocated for street repairs, paving, and improvements. “In my Ward there has been little improvement to our streets and that concerns me. My constituents continually ask when their streets are being paved or repaired and I just don’t have the answers. They deserve better,” stated Deputy Majority Leader Mary Kay Harris.
In 2017 the City Council approved the Elorza Administration to take out a $45M Bond to implement a Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) to fund critical improvements to streets, sidewalks, and other infrastructure projects. To date the City Council has not received a public report regarding the status of these funds.
Councilman David A. Salvatore stated, “Holding the Administration accountable for how they spend our resident’s hard-earned tax dollars is not only our duty, but it is unfortunate that we have to do so by passing legislation to get a breakdown of what work has been done. I hear from constituents every day about the state of our sidewalks. I realize that this was a large scale project, but their needs to be transparency for our residents.”
The City Council is requesting the Administration and the Director of Public Works to submit a project progress report and fiduciary updates to the City’s Internal Auditor for review within 30 days of passage.