No new taxes in Taveras' final proposed budget as Mayor of Providence.
Delivering his Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Address to a packed City Council Chamber, Mayor Angel Taveras this evening outlined his fiscal priorities for the coming year: holding the line on taxes, making key investments in education, public safety, infrastructure, and community resources, and continuing to build lasting financial stability in Rhode Island's capital city.
Mayor Taveras recounted the steps taken to pull the City back from the brink of bankruptcy as his administration worked with the City Council to turn a $110 million structural deficit into an operating surplus last year.
"Many people whispered bankruptcy was unavoidable," Mayor Taveras said. "But we were committed to doing whatever was necessary to save our City from financial ruin, and we got to work. The work of saving Providence from bankruptcy has not been easy - we all know that; we lived through it. It has taken tough choices and shared sacrifice by every stakeholder in our City. To them I say, thank you."
The Mayor's proposed $678.4 million budget represents a 2.4 percent increase in spending. Mayor Taveras said that his administration will have kept spending essentially flat for the duration of his term in office. Actual spending on the city-side of the budget will have increased less than 1 percent over four years - less than a quarter percent per year, and less than the rate of inflation.
"This budget is not balanced with gimmicks. It does not borrow to plug budget holes. It is balanced with discipline. It keeps our promises to union employees who came to the table during Providence's darkest hours and agreed to forego pay increases," Taveras said.
No New Taxes
In his speech, Mayor Taveras pledged to hold the line on the City's residential, business and automobile tax rates.
Without raising tax rates, the Administration forecasts a 1.3 percent increase in tax revenues in the upcoming year due to increasing tangible tax collections as business spending increases with an improving economy.
Last year, Mayor Taveras called for a seven-year freeze on Providence's commercial tax rate. The FY2015 budget holds the line on the commercial tax rate for the third year in a row. Mayor Taveras reported that as a result of the City's resolve, Providence is no longer at the top of The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy's list of cities with the highest commercial tax rates.
Mayor Taveras said his proposed budget makes key investments in key priority areas: public education, public safety, city services, parks and recreation, community libraries, a stronger pension system, and a healthy and environmentally responsible community.
"In our City's darkest days, I maintained that through hope and hard work we would weather the storm," said Taveras. "That we would not be afraid to make the tough choices necessary to see a deficit closed and fundamental investments made."
Specific investments proposed in the coming fiscal year include the following:
In his address, Mayor Taveras cautioned that Providence's next Mayor and City Council must continue to closely manage the City's finances.
"Make no mistake - the painstaking gains we have made over three and a half difficult years could be easily reversed if the City does not continue the fiscal discipline and responsibility that my administration has brought to City Hall," said Mayor Taveras. "The next Mayor and the next City Council must continue to work together with the same sense of urgency and spirit of cooperation that has brought us to this moment. Protect the flame that we kept alive through the storm."