Refunds for erroneously charged fines relating
to the late removal of trash bins to be issued within in 45 Days
CouncilmanDavid A. Salvatore (Ward 14) discovered in October of 2019 that a change to the Code of Ordinances from 2011 was never implemented by the Department of Public Works (DPW) regarding the fine amounts for late removal of garbage receptacles. This lapse resulted in residents being incorrectly fined for nearly a decade.
After conducting an audit of fines imposed on homeowners, repeated attempts by the City’s Internal Auditor requesting updates on the reimbursement plan from the City’s Administration for these charges were never answered. As a result, Councilman Salvatore and his Co-sponsors, Councilwoman Helen Anthony (Ward 2), Councilman Pedro Espinal (Ward 10), and Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune (Ward 3), introduced legislation forcing the City to refund residents who were unfairly fined.
“The City Council approved a change to the Code of Ordinances for these fines in 2011, and it was obviously never instituted by the Department of Public Works,” stated Councilman Salvatore. “The Internal Auditor found that nearly 1,000 residents were erroneously fined and in some cases the amounts of the citations were doubled or tripled. During these difficult times, homeowners impacted by the COVID-19 crisis could use these refunds to buy groceries, purchase medicine, and other critical expenditures. I want to thank the Internal Auditor for her diligence and research to ensure homeowners that they receive these refunds.”
According to the audit, 940 violations are eligible for a refund totaling $30,625.00. The report outlines the background and recommendations to the Department of Public Works, as well as their responses.
“It is my hope that our DPW will employ new methods of communication and outreach so that residents have clear and predictable knowledge of their responsibilities,” continued Councilman Salvatore.
Upon passage of the ordinance, the Director of Public Works shall furnish a report to the City Council and Internal Auditor within ten days that identifies all Providence residents who were improperly charged for violations of Section 12-63 of the Code of Ordinances.
Within 45 days from the passage of this ordinance, the City’s Finance Director must begin reimbursing Providence residents identified by the DPW’s report. Further, within 90 days from the date of passage of this ordinance, the Director of Public Works and Finance Director will provide a report to the City Council outlining their progress in reimbursing the residents who were overcharged, and further identify the required steps needed to complete the reimbursement process.