Mayor Jorge Elorza delivered his 2017 State of the City Address on February 1st. Below is the text of the address from the Mayor’s Office:
Changing The Narrative About Providence
Wednesday, February 1, 2017
Council President Aponte, Members of the City Council, Members of the General Assembly and fellow residents.
It’s been two years since I took office and it’s been the privilege of a lifetime to represent the residents of this city as Mayor. I’ve had a chance to meet with residents from every corner of the city and from every walk of life. I’ve scheduled community conversations in every neighborhood and coffee hours in every ward. I’ve visited every school in the city and just about every park, field and court in Providence. I’ve visited scores of businesses and have attended as many events as can fit on a person’s schedule.
At every point, I’ve tried to interact, listen and learn from our friends and neighbors. And what I’ve learned throughout the past couple of years is what makes me more optimistic than ever about the potential we have here in Providence. I’ve learned that our residents’ commitment to Providence is second to none. The connection that we have to our individual neighborhoods is unlike anything you’ll see throughout the state. The kindness that I’ve seen towards others, convinces me that you won’t find a more compassionate group of residents anywhere else. And, the amazing work that’s done in our neighborhoods convinces me that when we’re working together, we’re capable of accomplishing anything.
Now, we’ve had challenges in the past and while it is important to understand the root of those challenges, it is far more important to find solutions. After all, we are elected and placed in these positions to move the city forward. Fellow residents, every decision that I have made has been with my eye towards 5 and 10 years into the future and I’ve focused not only on where we want to be and how to get there, but also on how we’re going to sustain it by doing it together.
Providence is a special city with no shortage of strengths that we have to build off of. But it is also fair to say, that we still have not fully unlocked the potential of our people and our institutions. You see, there are four key challenges (each decades in the making) that we must address to create the strong and sustainable future that our city deserves; and it is these four areas (Finances, Infrastructure, Schools, and City Services) that I’ve been focused on these past 2 years and that I need your continued help to address.
When I took office, we got to work to ensure that the city’s finances were healthy. And just as a doctor would treat a patient, we made sure that we stopped the bleeding first. At the end of fiscal year 15, the city faced a $13M cumulative deficit. Effectively, this is money that we owed on the city’s credit card. But with the support of the City Council, and by reforming the way we put the budget together, eliminating almost every one-time, short-term solution, renegotiating contracts, and keeping track of every cent that comes in and out, we ended the following fiscal year with the largest operating surplus in the city’s records. And, this means that we’ll be paying off the cumulative deficit three years sooner than anyone expected.