Elorza’s 2019 Budget - No Tax Increase & No Effort to Resolve Billions in Unfunded Pension & OPEB

Wednesday, April 25, 2018


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Mayor Jorge Elorza

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza on Tuesday night proposed a $744,965,176 budget for Fiscal Year 2019.

Elorza claimed his budget would have no property tax increase, but the budget failed to address the city’s looming long-term obligations for unfunded liabilities for pensions and other post-employment benefits including health and dental. Those two categories continue to saddle Providence with approximately $2 billion in unfunded liabilities.

On Tuesday, GoLocal reported that a new poll conducted among likely Democratic Providence voters shows that despite only one announced opponent, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza faces significant challenges to re-election.

The poll was conducted by John Zogby Strategies — Zogby has been one of the top pollsters over the past three decades. The poll was commissioned by State Representative John Lombardi’s campaign.

“We’re thinking big about Providence’s potential in the new economy, as we build our Innovation Center and build stronger links to Boston,” Elorza said. “We’re thinking big about the role of the Woonasquatucket River, as it is converted from a forgotten relic to a source of energy that connects Fox Point to Olneyville and drives our Urban Innovation Strategy.”

Elorza claimed it was the first time a mayor had not raised taxes in a term. The city has benefited from rocketing real estate prices driven by the economy and Boston’s economic growth. 

“Three and a half years ago, we stood together and made a commitment to our children. Since then, we’ve invested in a cradle to career approach so that our kids are on the path to reach middle class by middle age,” said Elorza. “Our goal was to build an infrastructure of support, surrounding every child, so that they build the skills they need to stay on track. As a city, we said we were ALL IN for education and we’ve made a level of investments that might have seemed unlikely if not impossible three years ago.”

For needed infrastructure repairs to Providence Public Schools, Mayor Elorza announced a proposal for a $20 million Providence Public Building Authority (PPBA) bond. In addition to the $3.6 million increase in funding for the Providence Public School District (PPSD) made last fiscal year— what he claims is the first increase in seven years.

But, according to a comprehensive analysis of the condition of schools throughout the state, Providence schools alone have $1 billion in needed improvements.

Providence City Council President David Salvatore said in a statement, “We need to expand our tax base to keep pace with the momentum of development in our city - without raising taxes. We will achieve this by creating new opportunities for business development, jobs, and generating more pathways to homeownership. We also need to make it easier for businesses to interact with our local government.”

Elorza’s speech made no mention of the traffic camera controversy or the pending class action suit which could cost the city millions. The city has issued more than 20,000 tickets at $95 per violation. State House leaders have threatened to repeal the enabling legislation.


Related Slideshow: Providence Finances - Benchmark Report - 2016


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