Mayor Brett Smiley announced his administration’s $586 million budget proposal for fiscal year 2024 at a Tuesday budget address to the Providence City Council. The proposal is Smiley’s first as mayor.
The proposal calls for residential property tax rates of $18.70 per $1,000 in assessed value, up from $17.80 in fiscal year 2023, with the 40% homestead exemption maintained. It would decrease commercial property tax rates from $35.40 per $1,000 to $34.10, the Boston Globe reported.
It also calls for an expansion of city services, designating $300,000 to improve litter removal and $100,000 for a new 311 system, as well as $193,000 for sidewalk improvements and $222,000 for graffiti removal. The proposal is subject to approval by the Providence City Council, which will seek to approve it by mid-June, the Globe reported.
The proposed budget “would rebalance the city’s tax rates, refocus the use of federal dollars and prepare us for a possible recession,” Smiley said in a Tuesday press release.
Smiley also discussed the city’s ongoing negotiations surrounding its agreements for payments in lieu of taxes, which allow institutions like Brown to make voluntary payments to the city instead of taxes — on top of funding that Providence receives from the state in place of a portion of lost tax revenue.
Smiley said in the press release that his administration wants to place a commercial property tax on cases where “large institutions buy buildings and lease them to for-profit entities while being granted tax exemptions.” He also discussed a proposed payroll tax, which he said will provide funding to the city “whenever these institutions grow.”
Providence “needs these funds, in order to keep paying our bills on time and to provide the high-quality services we all deserve,” Smiley said in the release. “But equally, the meds & eds also need Providence to be a city where students, doctors, researchers and their employees want to be. We will continue negotiating in the months ahead and I look forward to reaching a new agreement that meets both of our needs.”
On the Public’s Radio earlier this month, President Christina Paxson P’19 P’MD’20 noted Brown’s “responsibility to contribute to the well-being in the city.”
“We expect that we will have to pay more, and we will,” Paxson said in the radio interview. “I'm looking for an approach that creates more alignment between the university and the city so that our growth is good for Providence and Providence's growth is good for Brown,” adding that the University hopes to build a “more collaborative and less transactional relationship” with the city.
The budget also calls for an expansion of the city police force, including funding to hire and train up to 80 new officers for the Providence Police Department through two new training academies. Funding for two new fire academies and technology to address noise violations is also designated in the budget. According to the press release, these changes strengthen “Providence's public health and safety strategy.”
“Throughout the last year, I have heard — loud and clear — what a problem sound is in our city,” Smiley said at the budget address. “Whether it’s loud nightclubs, modified mufflers or ATVs, we need to do a better job of respecting and enforcing our own existing sound rules.”
Smiley also noted that the city's Community Response Team targeting illegal ATV use — which he and Police Chief Oscar Perez announced earlier this month — has already seized 34 vehicles.
Neil Mehta is a University News section editor covering Institutional Equity and Student Affinity at The Brown Daily Herald. He also serves as the 133rd Editorial Board's design chief. He is a sophomore from Stony Brook, NY studying public health. Outside the office, you can find Neil baking, reading YA fiction and playing Tetris.