Approved budget contains no tax increases and uses $42 million in stimulus funds for small business relief, youth investments, free public Internet access, and more.
Tonight, the Providence City Council voted to approve a $539 million FY 2022 City Budget including $42 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to address both immediate needs created by the COVID-19 pandemic and longer-term investments that will pay dividends for years to come. The budget holds the line on residential and commercial property taxes, while funding key City services that residents expect and deserve.
Tonight’s vote to approve the FY 2022 City budget follows 5 weeks and more than 11 Finance Committee hearings to receive input from the Mayor’s office, Council members, and city residents and community organizations.
“I want to thank my colleagues on the City Council and Mayor Elorza for working collaboratively to put together and pass this budget that invests in our city at a time of great challenge for our residents,” said City Council President John J. Igliozzi. “Developing this budget during the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge. Through months of hearings, we have heard just how hard hit our families, small businesses, and community organizations have been by the health and economic impacts of COVID-19. To address these needs, I am pleased that we are able to utilize $42 million in ARPA funds to invest in summer programming for our youth, early learning programs, free public internet access at parks and recreation centers, anti-violence programs, homeless interventions, street sweeping and sewer repairs, our public libraries, and relief for our small businesses. In addition, this budget continues to invest in core City services including inspections and public safety, while holding the line on taxes.”
Continued Igiozzi, “I also want to highlight this budget’s investment in public safety, which will provide the staffing and resources necessary to respond to criminal activity and to keep the people of our city safe. Talking with residents, many have said they are worried about a rise in crime and support smart investments in our police department, as well as substantive reforms to address community concerns about some policing practices. That is why this budget includes funding for recruitment of new police officers to protect our neighborhoods, and also creates a new Community Relations and Diversion Services Major position within the police department to resolve public safety issues that would be better dealt with through outreach and partnerships with City agencies and community-based organizations.”
“During this time of great need, I am pleased that my colleagues on the City Council and Mayor Elorza have worked together to pass a budget that helps our residents, small businesses, and community organizations get through the COVID-19 pandemic, while making long term investments in our city,” said Councilwoman and Finance Chair Jo-Ann Ryan. “I am particularly pleased that this budget provides $7 million in direct relief for Providence’s small businesses, invests in early education for our youth, and invests in basic City services like public safety and housing and building safety inspections to address quality of life issues.”
FY 2022 City budget highlights include:
•No property tax increases.
•Invests in the Department of Inspections and Standards to deal with quality-of-life issues.
•Invests in the Department of Public Property to hire additional personnel to handle projects in a more efficient and timely fashion.
•Creates a new Department of Equity and Inclusion.
•Invests in public safety, including expansion of diversion efforts, creating anti-violence programs, and provisions to fund recruitment of new Providence Police officers.
•Continues to invest in City parks with a portion of Tax Stabilization revenue going to the Parks and Recreation fund.
•Provides an additional $300,000 for Providence Community Centers for programs that qualify for American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) resources.
•Creates a new Community Relations and Diversion Services Major position within the Providence Police Department.
•10% of tax revenue from projects with a Tax Stabilization Agreement (TSA) will be dedicated to supporting debt service on the $25M Providence Redevelopment Agency Special Obligation Bond that funded the Providence Housing Trust in FY21.
•Invests $350,000 to expand the number of pre-kindergarten classrooms in Providence, increasing access to quality early learning programs.
•Invests ARPA funds for night basketball, recreational center programs for our youths, free internet access at our largest parks and recreation centers, sewer repair fund, and a $7 million small business relief fund.
Providence Police Fireworks Task Force to Begin Operations on June 18th, 2021
In May of this year, Councilwoman Jo-Ann Ryan introduced a resolution to reinstate the City’s Fireworks Task Force. After the successful roll out of a fireworks task force in 2020, Councilwoman Ryan has coordinated with the Providence Police Department and Fire Department for another year of fireworks safety and enforcement.
“After the success of the fireworks task force I organized in 2020, I felt it was appropriate to reconvene our City’s law enforcement, public safety and administrative officials to coordinate enforcement and community education regarding the use of illegal fireworks. With summer approaching, so too is the major threat to public safety presented by the rampant illegal use of fireworks in our neighborhoods. I look forward to continuing last year’s progress and I thank our local law enforcement and fire officials for the work they do every day to maintain the quality of life and public safety of our community,” stated Councilwoman Jo-Ann Ryan (Ward 5).
Starting on June 18th, the task force will dedicate over a dozen law enforcement officers to respond to calls involving fireworks, and provide community education on how to report violations of the law and how to assist in the identification of locations where fireworks were being discharged.
To report the use of illegal fireworks in Providence or file a complaint, call the police department’s non-emergency line (401) 272-3121 or use visit the 311 webpage and select “Quality of life” and then “Excesscive Noise-Fireworks”.
To learn more about what you can do to stop the use of illegal fireworks, and what is legal or not legal in Providence, watch this video: https://vimeo.com/432876565
I am pleased to share that the Providence Police Department has announced the 70th annual Police Training Academy will commence on Monday, May 24th. The academy will be located in Ward 5, at the former Providence Water Supply Building at 552 Academy Avenue and will run Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
With fifty new recruits, part of the most diverse class in history, this is a great opportunity for our Police Department to grow and improve based upon the unique needs of our city. These men and women will be trained in classroom and role play scenarios on how to best serve and protect all Providence residents and visitors.
In my role on the City Council, I have been an advocate for the expansion, development, and enhanced training of our police force. With a large swath of our existing police officers approaching retirement eligibility, it is crucial that a new generation of officers is recruited and trained. I extend my appreciation to the Providence Police Department for working to get this year’s academy up and running despite the complications presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.
I welcome this year’s recruits to our neighborhood and wish them the best of luck as they begin their training. I look forward to seeing the value that they bring to our community as future members of the Providence Police Department.
At the May 6 City Council Meeting, Councilwoman Jo-Ann Ryan (Ward 5) introduced and the Council passed a resolution to relaunch the City’s successful Fireworks Task Force.
“With summer approaching, so too is the threat to public safety presented by the rampant illegal use of fireworks in our neighborhoods. Based on last year’s success, the Council resolution requests public safety and administrative officials, once again, to coordinate enforcement and community education regarding the use of illegal fireworks. City departments must work proactively to mitigate this issue,” stated Ryan.
In the late spring and early summer of 2020, the City of Providence experienced an overwhelming increase in illegal fireworks activity. In 2019, the police department reported less than 20 calls related to fireworks complaints, but in June of 2020 that number skyrocketed nearly 500. In response, Councilwoman Ryan convened a group of City stakeholders to discuss this quality of life nuisance, and identified three main areas that needed to be addressed: public education on what is and isn’t legal; licensing enforcement for businesses that are illegally selling fireworks; and a coordinated effort by public safety officials to focus on hot spots or problematic areas. This effort lead to the creation of the City’s Fireworks Task Force which resulted in multiple arrests and the confiscation of illegal fireworks.
In Rhode Island, ground-based fireworks and sparklers are legal, but aerial fireworks and anything that explodes are not allowed without a permit.
“Last year, as a result of the diligent efforts of the Fireworks Task Force, the City was able to make a significant reduction in the use of illegal fireworks that had been disrupting and endangering our neighborhoods,” Ryan said. “I look forward to building on this progress as we head into another summer, and I thank our local law enforcement and fire officials for the work they do every day to maintain the quality of life and public safety of our community.”
Ryan is encouraging individuals to report the use of illegal fireworks in Providence or file a complaint, call the police department’s non-emergency line (401) 272-3121. Complaints can also be filed by calling 311 or visiting the PVD 311 Website and selecting the ‘Quality of Life’ complaint option.
This resolution was co-sponsored by Council President Pro Tempore Pedro Espinal (Ward 10), Senior Deputy Majority Leader Nicholas J. Narducci Jr. (Ward 4), Councilman Michael Correia (Ward 6), Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune (Ward 3), Councilwoman Helen Anthony (Ward 2), Councilwoman Kat Kerwin (Ward 12) and Councilman John Goncalves (Ward 1).
Today, Councilman Michael J. Correia (Ward 6) has announced a partnership with the YMCA of Greater Providence, Manton Heights Housing Development, Providence Housing Authority, the Nonviolence Institute, and Amos House “More Than A Meal” catering company to provide healthy and nutritious meals to the families who live in the Manton Heights Housing Development.
“Food insecurity is an ever-growing concern not just in my community but around the state. We learned last year that one in four families in the State of Rhode Island are food insecure, and I am proud to have worked to bring together these amazing community partners to ensure that the families in Manton Heights can access healthy meals. In 2021, families going hungry is a sad reality, but we can all work together to make a change. I’m excited to be part of the solution for my neighbors,” stated Councilman Michael J. Correia.
The program will begin on April 12, 2021 and run through August 31, 2021. It will be part of the after-school programming that the YMCA site located at the Robert L. Bailey IV Elementary School on Gordon Avenue in Providence does weekly. Meals will be delivered on Mondays and Thursday’s from More Than A Meal catering company, an Amos House program, for youth up to the age of 18.
“It is with great pleasure to be able to partner with Manton Heights, Councilman Correia, and the POH team to be able to provide youth with meal support. Supporting the community in which we serve in any way we can is always the main goal. This initiative was able to kick-off due to the advocacy of one Joseph Shepard. With his passion and dedication to the community, he grew up in (Manton Heights) Joseph Shepard reached out to me about the support needed in the Manton Heights community,” stated Marcus Washington of the YMCA of Greater Providence.
Families will register for the program with the Resident Service Coordinator at Manton Heights. There will also be a waiting list to ensure that as many families can access the program as possible. Grant dollars are funding the program, and the partnering organizations will be coordinating the food distribution.
“PHA is grateful for Councilman Correia’s leadership in bringing the partners together to serve our families, and to the YMCA, the Non-violence Institute and Amos House for your support and commitment,” said Melissa Sanzaro, Executive Director of the Providence Housing Authority. “This is one more example of how housing can be a platform for health and well-being.”
To access the program, families will go to a central location in the Manton Heights Housing Development to pick up the “Grab & Go” meals. The process will be seamless, and all volunteers will be trained in safe food delivery techniques and protocols.
Councilman Correia continued, “I want to thank the YMCA of Greater Providence, the Providence Housing Authority, the Nonviolence Institute, Amos House, and the City Council staff who have worked so hard to bring this program to fruition. I look forward to continuing advocating for the members of my community and helping provide quality of life programming that is essential to their well-being.”
Councilman Correia has been a long-time advocate for Manton Heights’ families and has been dedicated to ensuring that the young residents have access to after-school programming and other essential services.
At tonight’s City Council meeting, Councilman John Goncalves (Ward 1) proposed a resolution supporting Rhode Island House Bills 2021 H-5674, H-6074, H-5595, and Senate Bills 2021 S-0219, S-0468, and S-0540, known collectively as the Rescue Rhode Island Act. This resolution was co-sponsored by Senior Deputy Majority Leader Nicholas J. Narducci Jr. (Ward 4), Councilwoman Helen Anthony (Ward 2), Councilman Pedro Espinal (Ward 10), Councilman Michael Correia (Ward 6), Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune (Ward 3), Councilor Rachel Miller (Ward 13), Councilman John J. Igliozzi Esq., Councilwoman Carmen Castillo (Ward 9), and Councilman James Taylor (Ward 8).
“We urge our elected representatives in the Rhode Island General Assembly and Senate to support and pass the Rescue Rhode Island Act. This initiative takes bold action to address a myriad of issues facing our State, from housing insecurity to sustainable food systems and climate justice. ” stated Councilman John Goncalves.
The Rescue, Rhode Island Act focuses on three main areas of concern. The first concern is the expansion of green and affordable housing construction. The Rescue, Rhode Island Act would allocate funding towards the construction of high quality, energy-efficient, affordable housing through the Housing Jobs Construction Program, which would also provide job training programs in energy-efficient construction and solar panel installation.
The second focus is the support of locally sourced food production. The legislation would assist in developing a reliable food production system in the State of Rhode Island.
“The Rescue Rhode Island Act takes progressive steps to move Rhode Island into a new era of green jobs, sustainable, affordable living, and a return to embracing local food systems. We have the technology, and we have the ability to make our State’s practices more environmentally friendly, so it is time for us to take the necessary steps in government to allow these exciting changes to happen,” added Councilman Goncalves.
Finally, the Rescue Rhode Island Act’s third focus is the creation of Green Justice Zones in Washington Park and the South Side of Providence. These Green Justice Zones would receive funding for projects such as the replacement of lead pipes. Within Green Justice Zones, polluting facilities would be more strictly regulated, and new polluting facilities would not be allowed to move into the area. Washington Park and the South Side of Providence are regions of the City that have been significantly impacted by air, water, and soil pollution. The outcomes of this pollution include disproportionate rates of childhood asthma and increased risks of environmental hazards.
“Changes must be made to protect the residents and the Washington Park and South Side neighborhoods’ ecosystem. The ongoing pollution only deepens the inequities in health and economic outcomes in the City of Providence. It is time that we put Rhode Islanders first and make meaningful change to improve the future of our State, but also to improve the everyday lives of those residing in areas that are prone to excessive, harmful pollution,” added Councilman Pedro Espinal.
The resolution has been sent to the Special Committee on State and Legislative Affairs.