FY14 budget invests in economic growth, education, public safety and infrastructure; strengthens city finances.
Mayor Taveras today commended the Providence City Council for approving an FY14 budget that freezes Providence's highest-in-the-nation commercial tax rate and invests in economic growth, job creation, education, public safety and infrastructure.
The Council today approved second and final passage of the budget by a 9-6 vote.
"I thank the members of the City Council for their commitment to our City and their courage in making the difficult decisions needed to move Providence forward," said Mayor Taveras. "This budget makes the investments needed to create jobs and grow our economy, so that Providence becomes an even better place to own a home, raise a family and run a business."
The $663 million FY14 budget continues to replenish the City's rainy day fund and makes critical investments to ensure that Providence has strong schools, safe neighborhoods, solid infrastructure and good city services.
The budget firmly commits to establishing the fiscal conditions needed to grow Providence's economy and includes crucial steps outlined in Mayor Taveras' economic development action plan, "Putting Providence Back to Work."
It freezes Providence's commercial, tangible and car tax rates. Providence's $36.75 commercial tax rate is the highest of any major city in the nation. Freezing the commercial tax rate is the first action item in Mayor Taveras' economic development plan.
The budget also creates two positions to staff a new unit in the Department of Inspections and Standards to quickly review permit applications and fast-track smaller building projects under $100,000.
"For nearly two months, the City Council vetted Mayor Angel Taveras' FY14 budget. It became clear that we need to kick-start Providence's economy while continuing to address the structural imbalances that contributed to the City's fiscal crisis. By freezing the commercial tax rate, we are sending a clear signal that Providence is open for business," said Council President Michael Solomon.
The budget includes $18 million in savings achieved through the Providence's landmark pension reform, as well as $8.2 million in contributions from the City's large tax-exempt institutions. It invests in public education with an $8 million increase for Providence's school budget, which reflects changes to the state's education funding formula.
The budget reflects Mayor Taveras' commitment to public safety by adding 18 additional police officers who will be paid using federal funds and investing in a new class of firefighter recruits that are expected to lower overtime expenses by nearly $4.8 million.
The budget invests in much-needed road repairs and includes the first debt service payment on the city's $40 million road bond. The work to repair approximately 65 miles of roads in Providence recently began and is expected to create hundreds of jobs in the coming years.
Following a citywide revaluation in which the average residential property value went down 13 percent in Providence, the FY14 budget sets the owner-occupied residential tax rate at $19.25, and sets the non-owner occupied tax rate at $33.75. Providence's residential tax rates remain competitive with the residential tax rates of Rhode Island's other cities and towns.
The City is also seeking legislation from the General Assembly to simplify the tax process by creating two, simple residential tax rates: owner-occupied and non-owner occupied. Currently, the City has one residential tax rate and applies various homestead exemptions.
"This budget provides a fair chance to those who are employing our residents and sends a loud message to all of our neighborhoods that the City is serious about growing its tax base," said Council Ways and Means Chairman David Salvatore.