As a member of the City Council’s Committee on Finance, I am uniquely aware of the complexities and the precarious state of Providence’s finances. I am disappointed that the administration has contracted with a firm that is not local or not using current staff to do the audit.
I hope that the intention is to look at the full scope of our public safety division, and not just our police department. Further, I have several questions regarding the public safety division’s budget.
First, we have not had a Fire Chief in nearly six years, the entire term of this Mayor. That position is listed in the City’s budget at $175,000 per year, yet, that money is never leftover – year over year. So, where is that money going? Second, when so many individuals are out of work and the City has put our staff on a furlough program, why is there a request for a $40,000 increase in the Commissioner’s salary? Finally, the Commissioner is the City’s acting Fire Chief and has no experience as a firefighter. The administration is in violation of the Home Rule Charter of the City of Providence as we are improperly paying individuals without the requisite expertise and paying out of classification for more than 90 days!
Under Mayor Cicilline we did not have a Public Safety Commissioner. The police and fire chief reported directly to the Mayor. By reverting to this model, we would save significant dollars that could be reinvested in the social service programs that the City is already contracted with, and have stated repeatedly that they could do more if funding allowed.
I hope that any resources cut from the budget are not these very important social service collaborators. The Committee on Finance has met and learned about the great work these organizations are doing in our City and in conjunction with public safety every day.
James E. Taylor
Providence City Council
Councilman – Ward 8