PROVIDENCE, RI — Following an investigation by a local media outlet early this month, Councilman David A. Salvatore has uncovered discrepancies related to fines issued to homeowners for trash violations.
Media outlet NBC10 alerted Salvatore to a $50 fine being assessed to homeowners leaving trash bins curbside after midnight of their assigned trash day.
“During my conversation with the reporter, I recalled an amendment that was approved by the City Council which reduced first time trash violation fines,” said Councilman Salvatore. “After some research of Providence’s Code of Ordinances, it was confirmed that the City Council had amended the Code to set a more equitable fine structure in 2011.”
Those amended fines were set at $25 for a first offense and $50 for a second offense, with all subsequent fines to be levied at $100 and not to exceed $1,500 per calendar year. Despite the 2011 ordinance change, Salvatore’s research concludes that residents have been receiving first-time violation citations at the $50 fine level – with no $25 fine listed on the citations.
Councilman Salvatore immediately asked for a comprehensive audit of trash fines, and the city put all fines on hold while working to determine whether any improper fines had been assessed. The city’s Internal Auditor is still reviewing more than 1,000 citations related to early storage and/or late removal of trash containers. From the information analyzed thus far, it is estimated that 60 percent of the citations reflect an overcharge.
“Many of our constituents are working two or even three jobs just to put food on their table. Any overcharge is unacceptable, but especially when so many of our residents are already struggling to get by,” said Salvatore. “While I believe that this was an honest mistake, this is an example of extreme carelessness and lack of clear policy and protocol. In addition to ensuring that technology reflects correct information, we need to ensure that our inspectors are trained properly on changes to municipal ordinances they are tasked with enforcing.”
Salvatore noted that the audit of trash fines is still underway; however, as with any thorough review, this audit is a long and cumbersome process that involves culling through physical tickets and other related documentation. He pledged to provide full details of the audit when it is completed and to ensure that any overcharged homeowners receive restitution.
“As elected officials, we have a duty to keep our streets clean and safe. However, we also have a duty to protect our residents, and we owe it to them to follow the rules that we ourselves have set forth,” said Salvatore.
Council President Sabina Matos and Council President Pro Tempore Michael Correia Presented a $2K Grant to the Providence Police Explorers Program
Providence City Council President Sabina Matos (Ward 15) and City Council President Pro Tempore Michael Correia (Ward 6) awarded a $2K City Council grant to the Providence Police Explorers Program yesterday at the Providence Public Safety Complex.
“The Providence Police Explorers Program is an amazing program that teaches our young people about public safety careers and helps build self-confidence,” stated Council President Sabina Matos. “I would like to thank Tina Shepard for her hard work and dedication to making this program so meaningful to the young men and women that make up this amazing cohort.”
The Providence Police Explorers program introduces young men and women interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement or other areas of the criminal justice field to public safety. The program provides career orientation experiences, leadership opportunities, and community service activities. The primary goals of the program are to help young adults choose a career path within law enforcement and to challenge them to become responsible citizens of their communities.
“I have been supportive of this program since its inception,” stated Council President Pro Tempore Michael Correia. “The program is helping us grow a new generation of public safety officers. It is providing them with important hands-on training that they would not be able to get elsewhere. Every time you ask them to take part in any community project or program, there is never a no, there is only where and when. I am in awe of the work they do, and all that Tina Shepard does to ensure that this program thrives.”
The Providence Police Explorers Unit educates young adults (ages 14-20) on the purpose, mission, and objectives of law enforcement agencies. Police Explorers have the opportunity to gain practical, hands-on experiences while also serving the community. The goal of the Explorers program is to teach young adults the values and skills needed to succeed in a law enforcement career and life.
This afternoon Councilman John J. Igliozzi, Esq. (Ward 7) joined Mayor Jorge O. Elorza, Council President Sabina Matos, Council President Pro Tempore Michael Correia, Superintendent of Parks Wendy Nilsson, Janet Coit from RIDEM, Ed Raff from the Met School, the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council, Kevin Essington from The Trust for Public Land, and Sheila Dormody from The Nature Conservancy to officially open the new Woonasquatucket Adventure Park located at 117 Glenbridge Avenue in Providence.
The new Woonasquatucket Adventure Park extends to Merino Park, encompassing nearly 28 acres of green space, play space, fields, and multi-purpose trails. The project has transformed a once vacant and underutilized piece of land along the Woonasquatucket River into a new beautiful, and active recreational space, complete with amenities that will attract residents from across Providence’s dense and diverse neighborhoods.
“This new Adventure Park is a great addition to the neighborhood,” stated Councilman John J. Igliozzi, Esq. “It will provide residents with access to amenities like picnic areas, a parkour course, a bicycle pump track, and a multi-use trail system which connects to Merino Park. I am grateful for the community support we have received to make this investment for not just our young people, but for residents of all ages.”
Over his tenure, Councilman Igliozzi has invested nearly $1M in Merino Park and the new Adventure Park. At Marino Park, he funded the rehabilitation of the basketball court, created a soccer field, a playground, added new parking lights, a new parking lot, security cameras, and brought water to the park for the first time.
Councilman Igliozzi continued, “I strongly believe in investing in our City parks, and in my years in office, I have made that a priority. Everyone deserves access to nature and places for exploration and space.” In FY 2020 Councilman Iglozzi has earmarked another $80K in funding for neighborhood park projects.
The Woonasquatucket Adventure Park was made possible through funding from the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, the City of Providence, City Council of Providence, Rhode Island Department of Transportation, Pisces Foundation, Hydro Flask, McKee Foods, and The Nature Conservancy.
For more information on the Woonasquatucket Adventure Park or Woonsquatucket River Watershed Council, visit them on the web: WRWC.
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 Votes to Pass the Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Which Includes a Homestead Exemption to Protect Homeowners
Tonight, the Providence City Council convened for a special meeting for first passage of the 2020 FY budget which will benefit all residents. The City Charter requires there to be two passages before the budget can be formally adopted, and the second and final passage will happen next week.
The FY 2020 budget includes a tax levy ordinance that brings back a homestead exemption (in addition to other exemptions like senior, widow, veteran, etc.) The levy is a flat tax rate of $24.56/per thousand along with a homestead exemption of 40%. Below is the formula to find your proposed tax rate:
(Assessed Property Value – 40%) x $24.56 ÷1,000 = FY2020 Property Tax Bill
The FY 2020 budget will provide the actuarially required contribution to the City’s pension fund; will include funding for quality of life services, increases funding for the Providence School Department, and ensures that the City will meet all of its financial obligations and maintain its bond ratings.
“I am very proud of the work the Council’s Committee on Finance has done on this budget and their thoughtful approach to helping protect our most vulnerable homeowners,” stated City Council President Sabina Matos (Ward 15). “I am also happy that we were able to reach an agreement with Mayor Elorza and his administration. Our goals are the same, we want the best for the City of Providence and by working together we can make real change. We have a lot of work to do to improve quality of life, public safety, and most importantly – to make effective change in our public school system. And I firmly believe that is only going to happen by working together, and although this process took time, we have made great strides and I look forward to working with the Mayor and his team.”
“I have been at the negotiation table numerous times,” stated Chairman of the Committee on Finance Councilman John J. Igliozzi (Ward 7). “This budget season is no different than others – our goal has always been to promote quality of life issues and to protect the tax payer. We worked very hard to help mitigate the tax increases that many of our residents were faced with after their revaluations, and I strongly believe that bringing back the homestead exemption will help nearly every resident. I want to thank my fellow members of the Committee on Finance, my colleagues on the Council who provided spirited discourse and engaged in the process, the Council’s finance team, the City’s Finance Director Larry Mancini, and Mayor Elorza for their efforts in creating a budget that serves all.”
The City Council leadership team continued to meet with Mayor Elorza and members of his team for further negotiations after the budget passed out of the Committee on Finance which resulted in adjustments to the FY 2020 budget. The budget still calls for certain austerity measures, but will provide increased funding for Arts, Culture, & Tourism, reinstates funding for a Providence Fire Chief, and other minor adjustments.
Budget Initiatives Include:
Fully funded the school department, and added an additional $1.5M to their budget to address immediate needs.
Created a flat tax rate and provides homeowner tax relief by bringing back the homestead exemption.
Removed all non-obligated pay raises.
Removed all proposed non-obligated new jobs.
Level funded almost all programs and departments.
Increased funding for summer job programming by $1M, which puts our city’s youth to work to gain experience and provides pathways for future employment.
Converted ten temporary assistant recreation director positions into full-time ones, in order to provide the wrap-around services that our students need to succeed.
Froze the commercial and tangible tax rates, providing business owners with the certainty they need to prosper.
Vice-Chairwoman of the Committee on Finance and Council Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan (Ward 5) stated, “The City Council Leadership team has worked very hard to mitigate the adverse effects of the property revaluation that occurred earlier this year, and I am proud to have been part of the solution. I want to thank the hardworking members of the Council’s Committee on Finance and the Council’s finance team for helping craft a budget that is fiscally responsible, ensures the city is meeting its financial obligations, and provides for services that are important to a vibrant and culturally diverse city like Providence.”
The City Council will hold a special meeting on Tuesday, July 9, 2019 for the second and final passage of the FY 2020 budget.
$55,000.00 in additional dumpster fees
$250,000.00 in additional overnight parking permitting fees
$200,000.00 in Providence Place Mall PILOT payment
$82,500.00 for Chief Financial Officer (Mayor’s Office)
$532,617.00 to make 10 temporary Assistant Recreation Directors permanent positions to provide wrap-around services that our students desperately need
$35,772.00 for an additional clerk in the Municipal Court
$3,705.00 for maintenance contracts in the City Clerk Departments
$25,000.00 removed for non-contractual pay increases in the Law Department
$82,500.00 was transferred to the Mayor’s office in support of the chief financial officer position, so the funds were removed from the Finance Department
$17,258.00 removed for the non-contractual pay increases for the city collector, deputy city collector, and assistant city collector
$5,250.00 removed the non-contractual pay increase to the deputy assessor
$171,586.00 removed the non-contractual increases to union and non-union members in the IT Department
$400,000.00 removed funding for nine police officers that could not be hired due to lack of a Police Academy in FY2020
$101,467.00 removed salary of director and new workforce development associate (both vacant)
$291,000.00 decrease in seasonal salaries as a result of hiring one full-time recreation center director
$8,200.00 removed the non-contractual increase to the director in the Human Relations Commission
$2,758.00 removed the non-contractual pay increase for the deputy director in Arts Culture and Tourism
$29,530.00 removed non-contractual increases in salaries in the City Council
$50,847.00 removed salary of the stenographic reporter (vacant)
$16,835.00 funded only 9-months of auditor school
Salary Review Commission Decreases
$20,016.00 removed due to not being approved by the Salary Review Commission (Finance Director)
$39,284.00 removed due to not being approved by the Salary Review Commission (Commissioner of Public Safety)
Operational and Technical Decreases
$200,000.00 removed from the police department for a training facility, and travel/training expenses
$100,000.00 removed from the fire department for training academy (not planned)
$225,000.00 was removed to keep advertisements, rentals, and contractual services level funded for the Arts Culture and Tourism department.
$75,000.00 was removed to keep level funding for consultants in the Planning Department (last year they only spent $65K or $200K on consultants)
$160,000.00 was removed to keep building repairs level funded in the Public Property Department
$17,500.00 was removed to keep training and miscellaneous materials level funded in the City Council
$60,000.00 decreased in miscellaneous expenses in the City Archives
$94,500.00 transferred expenses for five Speed Alert Radar Messages to the master lease
$80,016.00 transferred expenses for FATS Simulator to the master lease
$84,489.00 will be removed due to payroll tax associated with the salary decreases