Providence City Council amends Mayor Smiley’s budget plans

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — The Providence City Council met to discuss their amendments to Mayor Brett Smiley’s first budget proposal on Thursday evening. 

Smiley submitted his first proposal on April 25. It includes an increase in property taxes for homeowners and also seeks to cut the commercial tax rate for business owners and large apartment buildings.

Council President Rachel Miller said, “This fall, I will be asking the council to convene a commission on taxation to discuss these issues with a special eye on keeping long-time homeowners in their homes and supporting growth and development of all kinds, particularly empowering local talent to be part of that growth.”

While the city has not passed a tax increase in eight years, Miller said residents have experienced increases in costs of living due to inflation, rising rents, and property re-evaluations.

“The tax rate I am asking you to consider achieves 4.1 million dollars in savings for Providence residents,” said Miller. 

The amended budget proposes a residential tax rate of $18.35/1,000 to save taxpayers money while ensuring the city can provide quality service. They want to find a modest decrease to commercial rate with an amended budget proposing $35.10.

Miller also said there will be a police academy built into the new budget.

“There is a police academy in our budget. There is a police academy happening right now that ends in August,” she said. “The primary conversation around policing — many people on the council and residents are in full agreement with community policing.”

Miller added, “The council before had a budget that logistically seemed impossible. Based on the timeline that the chief of police and the finance department presented, it is 1.69 million from that department alone and that is part of the 4.1 million in savings for taxpayers.”

The council also proposed a non-essential employee hiring freeze until new agreements are approved.

There will be a public hearing on Tuesday where a decision will be made on the budget plans for the city.

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