Budget Maintains Investments in Neighbors and Neighborhoods
April 29, 2020
PROVIDENCE, RI – Mayor Jorge O. Elorza proposed a $506,843,316 municipal budget for the Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) for the City of Providence that builds off of recent supports while proposing streamlined investments in the health and safety of the community amid the continued local response to COVID-19. The Mayor delivered an update to residents and businesses via Facebook to outline budget investments. Read the speech in English and Spanish.
“Though we find ourselves in uncertain times, our residents need the support of a government that truly works for them now more than ever,” said Mayor Jorge Elorza. “Our residents have been asked to make sacrifices in ways that seemed unimaginable just a couple months ago. We crafted this budget with that in mind; bringing relief where we could, providing support where it was needed, and never stopping from investing in the vision of our New Providence.”
Mayor Elorza’s proposed FY21 budget also invests in the intersections of mental health, homelessness, and overdose prevention. As the impacts of COVID-19 have exacerbated housing insecurity for residents, the City seeks to build a dedicated revenue stream to invest in and build affordable housing, while helping keep families from forcible evictions by providing legal support to tenants. Additionally, the FY21 budget provides for $150,000 in outreach that connects residents to behavioral health supports. These funds are distinct from the Healthy Communities Office’s Overdose Hotspot Grant, a CDC-funded project with the RI Department of Health that builds upon previous years of work on substance use prevention.
In an effort to support the residents and businesses faced with difficult financial decisions during this pandemic, Mayor Elorza’s proposed budget does not increase residential or commercial taxes. Additionally, it proposes that small businesses with tangible personal property assessments under $10,000 will not have to pay tangible taxes this year, pending state approval. This relief comes in addition to the extension of fourth-quarter tax deadlines for current taxpayers with non-escrowed payments and the recently announced Providence Business Loan Fund relief program, with loans for eligible businesses starting at $10,000.
The Administration continues to work closely with community partners and the State to launch accessible test sites within its hardest-hit communities. Earlier this month, the City successfully launched the state’s first walk-up test site in partnership with Providence Community Health Centers to provide quick, confidential, and free testing to residents. It is also working closely with Clinica Esperanza to expand its current operations. The FY21 budget submitted builds upon these efforts with $150,000 aimed at increasing the efficiency and accessibility of the local testing system and other COVID-19 related supports.
“As the largest city in our state and one of the densest, we always knew that we shared a large part of the responsibility in keeping Rhode Islanders safe,” said Mayor Jorge Elorza. “And that is why we acted aggressively and proactively to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 early on. We will continue to fight this virus every day to keep all of you safe; regardless of language, zip code, occupation, everyone deserves access to the care that they need and to see a stable future on the other end of this crisis.”
As students continue social distancing learning for the rest of the school year due to COVID-19, Mayor Elorza is committed to mitigating lost learning opportunities by offering summer programs for all Providence youth. The proposed FY21 budget provides $580,000 from the municipal budget for robust summer learning programs and $1.2 million for engaging summer employment opportunities, both programs have seen the highest levels of participation this past year. Programs are currently being reviewed and delivery may change. The City has also committed to $350,000 in pre-kindergarten supports that will expand the number of four-hour seats and advance its mission to becoming the first municipality within the state to reach universal pre-k. Repairs and investments to school infrastructure continue in collaboration with the State to improve learning facilities for when students return.
In addition to continued repairs to school facilities, Mayor Elorza announced the continued investments in critical infrastructure through FY21. The City borrowed $115 million in FY20 for capital projects, which has supported investments identified in FY20 and $60.97 million invested in FY21. These investments build upon the $124 million of projects that have been completed over the last three years since the Administration introduced a first-of-its-kind comprehensive Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) in 2017.
“While we may not be sure of what tomorrow holds, it is critical that we continue the strategic investments and long-term planning that has brought us into the New Providence we see today,” said Mayor Jorge Elorza. “This means continuing to make investments in our public infrastructure and continuing to look out for the most vulnerable of our residents so that everyone has the same opportunity to thrive.”
Mayor Elorza’s proposed FY21 budget can be accessed online at openbudget.providenceri.gov and is subject to approval by the Providence City Council. This data does not include school pass-through and state aid. Current data on FY20 can be found using the FY20 Budget Expense Explorer and theFY20 Budget Revenue Explorer. For more information on COVID-19 and best practices that can be shared, residents can visit our website, call to connect to the Mayor’s Center for City Services by dialing 3-1-1, visiting www.PVD311.com or downloading the PVD311 mobile app on your smartphone for 24/7 access. Residents can register to receive CodeRED emergency notifications by phone, email, text, and/or mobile alerts for the latest updates from the City and to reach out to the Rhode Island Department of Health’s COVID-19 Assistance Line at 401-222-8022 Monday through Friday during regular business hours should they have additional questions.