Private colleges in Providence come to new financial agreement with city

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — Mayor Brett Smiley announced Tuesday a new agreement between the city of Providence and four private higher education institutions.

Smiley said the new agreement pertains to the proposed new Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) agreement between Providence and Brown University, Rhode Island School of Design, Providence College, and Johnson & Wales University.

“I am incredibly proud of the new agreement we are proposing today, which makes Providence a national example for collaboration and positively impacts our city for generations to come,” said Smiley.

The Democrat said the proposed new agreement “more than doubles the financial contributions” Providence will receive over the next 20 years. He said it builds a mutually beneficial agreement with each of the higher education institutions.

“Our city needs these funds in order to keep paying our bills on time, and to provide the highest quality city services we all deserve,” added the mayor. “Our institutions also need Providence to be a city where students, faculty, doctors, researchers and their employees want to be. This proposed agreement sets us all up for long-term success.”

Smiley said there are two main components to the PILOT agreement: memorandum of understanding (MOU) with all four institutions and memorandum of agreement (MOA) with Brown University only.

The MOU, he said, includes voluntary payments and community contributions.

“The estimated total value of just the community contributions is $177,472,813 over the life of the proposed PILOT agreement,” said Smiley’s administration.

The MOA provides additional payments to Providence in exchange for support of some key priorities.

“Between the two agreements, Brown is committed to contributing more than $174 million in direct voluntary payments to Providence between 2024 and 2043, increasing its current average annual investment in city finances to $8.5 million,” said his administration.

Smiley said that “when comparing voluntary payments alone, [his] proposed agreement reaches a total of $223,472,813 between the MOU and MOA.”

His administration said that’s a 138% increase from the combined 2003 and 2012 agreements.

The proposed agreement also includes commercial property taxes, which total $442 million in contributions from the four institutions over the next 20 years.

Through the MOA, Smiley’s administration said the city will support key zoning and planning changes, including extending the previous parking agreement for Brown University faculty and staff.

As for the residents of Providence, Smiley said that improving their quality of life is a top priority for his administration.

The agreements, according to his administration, include the creation of a bimonthly “Quality of Life” working group between the administration, the City Council and the four institutions.

The proposed PILOT agreements builds upon to the previous agreements made in 2003 and 2012, said Smiley. It will go to the City Council on Sept. 7 for introduction and can could be further reviewed by the Council Finance Committee.

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