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Providence 2013 State of the City Address


Mayor Angel Taveras

2013 State of the City Address

Providence Is Recovering

Tuesday, January 29, 2013 • (as prepared for delivery)

Photo of the Mayor delivering the State of the City from the Mayor's Office.

Photo of the Mayor delivering the State of the City from the Mayor’s Office.

Governor, Mr. President, honorable members of the Providence City Council, distinguished guests, and my fellow residents of our great Capital City –

One year ago I stood before you in this Chamber with an urgent message for our City and the entire State of Rhode Island. Providence was in peril. Despite many difficult decisions and painful sacrifices made to pull Providence back from the brink, we were still $22 million short of closing a $110 million structural deficit.

Crucial steps necessary to navigate our City safely through our Category 5 fiscal hurricane had not yet come to pass. We still needed to reform our unsustainable pensions. And we needed Providence’s large, tax-exempt institutions to contribute more.

As I stood before you on February 13, 2012, Providence was running out of cash, and running out of time. In the months that followed, there were some who said Providence could not avoid filing for bankruptcy.

BACK FROM THE BRINK

Today it is my privilege to deliver a much more hopeful report on the State of our City: Providence is recovering.

Through collaborative efforts and shared sacrifice, we have all but eliminated our City’s $110 million structural deficit, and we expect to end this year with a balanced budget. Working together, we have accomplished what few believed possible.

We were determined to address the root causes of Providence’s fiscal emergency and prepared to act unilaterally if necessary. And we knew our City would never achieve a lasting recovery without addressing our unsustainable and spiraling pension costs.

In April, following months of actuarial analysis and public testimony, this City Council unanimously approved a pension reform ordinance that put Providence’s pension system on a sustainable path.

We recognized that passing the ordinance would likely lead to a high-stakes lawsuit with no real winners – because a decision in favor of the status quo would push our City over the brink. However, faced with the challenge of negotiating pension changes with more than 2,000 retirees who were not represented by a single entity, we saw no alternative.

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House makes changes to Route 195 Redevelopment District Commission Legislation

The Route 195 District Commission bill was before the House last night. Common Cause had this to say on Facebook last night:

The I-195 bill was heard in House Finance tonight. There are substantial amendments and the hearing is set to continue tomorrow at noon. I’ll hopefully be able to share some details in the morning. Two quick changes of note–it restores some of the zoning/planning power of Providence, and it expressly prohibits a casino.

ProJo reports this morning on changes the House made to the Senate’s bill:

  • Language that no casino could be built on the former Route 195 land;
  • The Speaker of the House could recommend three names to the governor for one of the seven members of the powerful commission; the mayor of Providence would continue to recommend three; the governor would appoint all seven;

Wait what? Why is the Speaker of the House recommending appointments now? The Speaker of the House at the moment may well indeed be a Providence resident, but that could change. What on Earth could be the reason for this?

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Video: Community Forum on Proposed I-195 Redevelopment District

Part one of two of the Community Forum on Proposed I-195 Redevelopment District:

6.13.11 Community Forum on Proposed I-195 Redevelopment District Commission PART 1 of 2 from BetterProvidence on Vimeo.

BetterProvidence & Common Cause RI hosted a Community Forum to give PVD and RI residents the opportunity to learn about and ask questions about the State’s legislative proposal for selling and redeveloping 35 acres of land in and adjacent to PVD’s Jewelry District.

Panelists:

  • John Marion, ED, Common Cause RI
  • Kelly Mahoney, Policy Dir., Dept. of Administration, State of RI
  • Arthur Salisbury, President, Jewelry District Association
  • Thomas Deller, Planning Director, City of Providence

Forum Co-Sponsors:

  • Jewelry District Association
  • Fox Point Neighborhood Association
  • Greater City: Providence
  • American Institute of Architects Rhode Island

Forum moderator: Mike Ritz, ED, Leadership Rhode Island
Event venue: The Spot Underground, Providence

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