Councilman David A. Salvatore (Ward 14), Councilwoman Helen Anthony (Ward 2), and Councilman Pedro Espinal (Ward 10) will introduce an ordinance at tonight’s City Council meeting that calls for a dedicated revenue stream to fund housing opportunities. The proposal would allocate 50 percent of the revenue realized through the real estate conveyance tax for the City’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
“The City retains nearly $2 million in revenue from the state’s real estate conveyance tax every year and has not used any of those funds to help solve our housing crisis,” stated Councilman David A. Salvatore. “Last month, I introduced a resolution calling for the Mayor to create a dedicated funding stream in this coming year’s budget for affordable housing, but after consideration, I believe it falls upon this body to ensure that the most vulnerable amongst us are protected. Households making less than $100 thousand a year are unable to buy a home on the East Side, while they can only buy in other neighborhoods; however, only if their annual household income is just north of $60K can they afford to live in other areas our City. These numbers are even more frightening considering the median household income in Providence is estimated to be $40 thousand a per year. It’s time that we put our money where our mouth is, and that’s what this ordinance will accomplish.”
For every $500 of a real estate sold within the State of Rhode Island a $2.30 conveyance tax is imposed, which $1.10 of that is retained by the municipality where the property was sold. For example, if a home is sold for $100 thousand, the state receives $460 in conveyance tax, and the municipality would receive $220. Councilman Salvatore is proposing that Mayor Elorza allocate 50 percent of the City’s portion of the conveyance tax be transferred to the Providence Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
Councilwoman Helen Anthony stated, “Providence needs to significantly increase its inventory of affordable housing and we can’t do it without dedicated funding streams from the City and the State. The funding created by this ordinance, in conjunction with the funding generated by the City’s Tax Stabilization Agreements, will give the Providence Redevelopment Agency some resources to address this critical shortfall.”
The Trust Fund provides funding for the construction, development or financing mechanisms of affordable housing for families earning less than 120% of the median income. The City’s Internal Auditor has found that during the fiscal years 2010-2019 the City has retained just over $16 million through the collection of the state’s real estate conveyance tax.
“As the Councilman for Lower-South Providence and Washington Park, I know first-hand how hard it is to find affordable housing,” stated Councilman Pedro Espinal. “Affordable housing is not a luxury, it is a basic human right, and by creating this dedicated funding stream, we can begin to chip away at this long systemic problem here in Providence.”
Councilman Salvatore continued, “This is not rocket science – we have an affordable housing crisis in the City of Providence and the State of Rhode Island – but those of us in power just talk about it when we need to do something about it. This proposal is an actionable item that we can take as a City to help our neighbors who need it. Affordable housing is a human right, and it’s an integral part of ensuring safe, resilient, healthy, and dynamic neighborhoods.”
City Council Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan (Ward 5) and Councilman James E. Taylor (Ward 8) will introduce a resolution at Thursday’s Council meeting calling for the City to create a 5-year plan for the City’s aging fleet of public safety vehicles after a series of incidents with our fire trucks breaking-down.
“I was astounded to learn that we did not have a ‘plan’ for the maintenance and upkeep of our fire trucks and other safety vehicles,” stated Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan. “It is unacceptable that the largest Fire Department in New England has an aging fleet, has no 5-year plan for replacement and maintenance – as is the national standard, and the maintenance records are being kept manually with scant internal controls or management oversight. Due to the high cost of these vehicles, it is critical that the City’s Public Safety and Public Property departments work together to create a 5-year plan that is annually vetted by the Council. This will help ensure proper budget appropriations for the safety of the men and women of the Fire Department and that of our resident’s life and property.”
The resolution calls for the Commissioner of Public Safety and the Department of Public Property to provide a five-year safety and maintenance plan for all city-owned public safety vehicles. The plan will include condition assessments, maintenance records, replacement schedules, and a completed inventory of all public safety vehicles and must conform to minimum national industry standards. Due to the high cost for these vehicles it is critical for the City’s public safety officials make proper long-range plans. Because this hasn’t been done, the Council is planning to bring back the City’s Master Lease for review.
Councilman James E. Taylor stated, “As a former Fire Battalion Chief, I understand how critical it is to have safe fire apparatus’ for not only the men and women who serve in the Fire Department but for the residents of our City. I commend Derek Silva, President of Providence Fire Fighters IAFF Local 799, for bringing the state of our fleet to the attention of the City Council. Minimum industry standard calls to move any front-line vehicles over 15-years old to serve as a back-up for a maximum of five years and a third of our fleet is over 20-years old. It’s my sincere hope that the Mayor will allocate adequate public safety funding in his budget, including funding for a full-time Fire Chief.”
Established national standards put forth by the National Fare Protection Association calls for the maintenance and replacement of fire engines and ladder trucks no more than 15-years as a front line vehicle, with an additional five years as a reserve, prior to replacement. With a third of the City’s fleet being 20-years or older the City is creating an unnecessary safety risk for the public as well as for the personnel that have to operate those vehicles.
First and foremost, I want to thank my neighbors – the residents of Lower South Providence and Washington Park – as well as the local community organizations and businesses for joining me in expressing our shared concerns that this project is not only bad for our neighborhood but could potentially have long-lasting environmental effects on our Port and quality of life for our residents.
Also, I wish to extend my gratitude to the staff of the City Planning Commission (CPC) who have found that the Commission as a whole should deny this project because it does not adhere to the City’s Master Plan and because of the potential adverse effects to our environment. These findings reflect what we, as a community, have been saying all along.
Thank you to Mayor Elorza, who earlier today came out against this proposed facility, my colleagues on the City Council, and my colleagues in the General Assembly who have been supportive and have spoken out against this facility as well.
The fight does not end today; we still have work to do.
I encourage my colleagues and my neighbors that are opposed to this project to join me at the March 17, 2020 CPC meeting, which will take place at 4:30 PM at 444 Westminster Street to speak up and out against this proposed facility. If you are unable to attend, you can still share your concerns by sending a letter to the CPC at the address listed above to the attention of Deputy Director Robert Azar, AICP of the Department of Planning and Development, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Again, thank you to my neighbors and all those who have joined me in advocating to keep our Port clean, and who have the shared goal of making our Port area something to be proud of.
Providence City Council
Councilman – Ward 9
In light of the two recent presumptive cases of Coronavirus in Rhode Island, our offices have been in communication with our state and city colleagues to ensure a coordinated response.
We want to commend our first responders and our State Department of Health for their swift action and for their levelheadedness.
We want to take this opportunity to reiterate that risk of transmission of the virus is low for Rhode Islander’s, but we should take basic steps to stay safe from all viruses – like the flu – by following these helpful tips:
Wash your hands, and do so often. In the absence of access to soap and warm water, use a hand sanitizer.
Keep your hands away from your eyes, nose, and mouth.
If you are going to cough or sneeze, do so into your elbow or by covering your mouth and nose with a tissue.
If you are feeling ill or someone you care for is ill – stay at home. If your/their condition gets worse, you should call your/their primary care physician and ask if you/them should be seen.
Clean and disinfect surfaces regularly, especially those that are frequently touched like light switches and doorknobs.
Remind those in your care of the above tips to keep them safe as well, especially children and seniors.
As of now, our public events and meetings will proceed as scheduled until advised to do otherwise by state health officials. As always, the Council will communicate with our constituents should anything change.
For more information regarding the Coronavirus we encourage you to visit the CDC’s webpage: CDC-Coronavirus
I wish to thank Senate President Dominick J. Ruggerio for his leadership on this important issue.
It is with pride that I share in this historic victory in the Senate and hope that the House will pass similar legislation so that our Governor can sign this important piece of legislation into law. A statewide bill is not just a big win for the state of Rhode Island, but for our planet.
Since my first term on the City Council I worked with my colleagues in state and local government, ZeroWaste Providence, the Racial and Economic Social Justice Committee, and several community organizations to bring Providence’s Single-Use Plastic Check-Out Bag Reduction Act to fruition. It was passed unanimously twice by my Council colleagues and had its final passage, serendipitously, on Earth Day 2019. It was one of the proudest moments in my legislative career, and I could not have done it without their support.
Since then, I have worked to support a statewide bill banning single-use plastic bags.
I would be remiss if I didn’t thank the Conservation Law Foundation and the other Rhode Island communities that came before us, they led the way and provided support and information that helped shape my legislation, and I stand with them urging the House to pass statewide legislation so that we can rid our towns, streets, and waterways of this very harmful contaminant. I urge the House to pick-up and pass the legislation that Senate President Ruggerio shepherded through the Senate.
The Rhode Island Resource Recovery Center is overly burdened by these single-use plastic bags. In Providence, we spent nearly $1M on rejected recycling loads every year. It’s not just about our physical health that these contaminants do harm to, but also our fiscal health as a city and state.
Earth Day 2020 is not that far off, I could think of no better way to honor this day then the great state of Rhode Island having a Plastic Bag Ban.
Jo-Ann Ryan, Majority Leader
Providence City Council
Councilwoman – Ward 5
Tonight Council President Sabina Matos (Ward 15) and President Pro Tempore Michael Correia’s (Ward 6) amendment to the Code of Ordinances that creates a $40K fund specifically for the support of Providence youth sports programs was passed for the second and final time.
The fund will support funding for equipment, costs associated with travel for sports competitions, and participating in sports-related activities. These funds are in addition to other funding that youth sports organizations may already receive from the City. Any youth sports group that applies for and is granted monies will have to refrain from the practice of “canning” (which is when young people raise money by standing on the corner at a stop sign or redlight and ask drivers to donate monies to their group).
“As a mother seeing young athletes trying to raise money while standing on our busy streets, and looking for donations from drivers at stop signs or red lights causes me great concern,” stated City Council President Sabina Matos. “These young athletes are risking their personal safety to get the funds they need to support their programs. I am glad that we have finally brought this Fund to fruition.”
The Youth Sports Fund & Grant Program will be held in a separate permanent fund of the city and will be held in trust by the City Treasurer. The fund will be administered by the City’s Recreational Advisory Board who will grant funding to Providence-based local non-profit youth sports organizations. The fund will be seeded with $40K annually through an appropriation from the City’s budget.
City Council President Pro Tempore Michael Correia added, “The Council President and I introduced this last November, and I am thrilled that we will now have this fund in place for our City’s young athletes. It is a highlight of my time on the Council that we have found a way to support our local non-profit youth sports programs that do so much for our community and our young people. This fund will provide access to youth sports clubs in every neighborhood of our city, and it will go a long way to ensuring that our young athletes are spending time practicing and not having to raise money.”
The fund will be set-up by the City Treasurer who will work with the Recreational Advisory Board to help implement a grant submission application process.