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RI Favorites – Providence Budget Crisis

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Our report that there was “no question” the city of Providence would “run out of money,” rocked the political world mere weeks before the election. Providence residents found out that the city had nearly depleted its cash reserves, was reportedly having trouble making pension payments, and had already spent most of the money it had borrowed to cover its budget deficit. It came as a bit of a surprise to many people that the city may not have been well-managed during the Cicilline years and underscored the severity of the fiscal problems that communities around the state—most notably Central Falls—are facing.

Providence Mayor David Cicilline went on to win the Congressional race handily, but voters certainly had a much more complete and well-rounded picture of the job he had done as mayor. Beyond the election, the report set the stage for Mayor-elect Angel Taveras, who made fiscal responsibility and budget restraint dominant themes of his transition to power.

A series of other reports on questionable spending in the city budget followed, including reports that Providence fire chiefs had earned $400,000 in unauthorized benefits and that the Fire Department had racked up nearly $9 million in overtime costs—an increase of $1 million in a two-year period. GoLocalProv also broke the story that two fire chiefs had taken demotions in order to receiver more generous retirement benefits—the outrage this story sparked and the immediate intervention of Taveras points to the impact our reporting on the city’s fiscal crisis has had on public opinion and debate.


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