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Smiley’s FY 2025 budget pledges ‘no increases to taxes for businesses or residents’

Budget invests in housing, policing, public schools, public works, climate infrastructure

<p>Public comment hearings regarding the budget proposal will be held on May 7 and June 4. The budget proposal holds a tentative adoption date of June 20.</p>

Public comment hearings regarding the budget proposal will be held on May 7 and June 4. The budget proposal holds a tentative adoption date of June 20.

Providence Mayor Brett Smiley announced a $598.6 million budget proposal for fiscal year 2025 at his Wednesday budget address to the Providence City Council. This is Smiley’s second budget proposal as mayor. 

The proposal — a $15 million increase from his FY 2024 budget — includes increases in funding allocations for housing, policing, public works, and climate infrastructure. 

The balanced budget contains “no increases to taxes for businesses or residents,” Smiley said at the budget address. 

Smiley’s proposal will also not rely on federal funding, as the “administration has shifted away from relying on one-time federal dollars for annual expenses,” Press Secretary Josh Estrella wrote in a press release shared with The Herald.



Smiley allocated $29 million from the remaining American Rescue Plan Act funds — the administration’s “largest commitment of ARPA dollars” — to address the housing crisis in Rhode Island.

In his address, Smiley said that he plans on further investing in the city’s affordable housing trust fund. 

Smiley also noted that, over the past year, the city has “invested in over 400 emergency shelter beds.” It has also “restructured regulations and zoning to incentivize new housing development” that has led to the creation of 800 new housing units in Providence last year with 500 more underway. 


The budget designates $227 million to public safety measures — a 7% increase from FY 2024. 

In the past year, “the Providence Police have removed hundreds of illegal guns from community streets, confiscated over 200 ATVs and increased measures to combat speeding violations and excessive vehicle noise pollution,” according to a press statement from Smiley’s office. 

“Keeping Providence safe means continuing to fund police academies until we can get back to full force while also investing in the men and women who are currently on the job,” Smiley said in his address. 

Both the budget and recently negotiated agreements with the Fraternal Order of Police would expand funding for an additional police academy, which Smiley believes will help address staffing issues.

Last year, Smiley also invested in the Family Service of Rhode Island to pair police officers with social workers “to address nonviolent emergencies.” 


Additionally, the city “instituted a new pilot program through which EMS units are assigned bicycle details in and around Downtown” last year so that medical personnel can more efficiently respond to emergencies such as opioid overdoses and mental health crises. Through FY 2025 budget allocations, Smiley hopes to expand this program, starting with Broad Street. 

Citing an 11% increase in non-emergency calls, Smiley said that last year, “the fire department deployed a new unit called Mobile Health 1, a mental health and non-emergency medical response vehicle.” He added that the proposed budget would continue supporting the department and its initiative. 


The city of Providence will also be receiving over $13.7 million via payment in lieu of taxes — referred to as PILOT — from higher education institutions and hospitals. This is a 90% increase from $7.2 million in FY 2024. 

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The City Council voted in favor of these voluntary payment agreements in October 2023, The Herald previously reported.

“This new PILOT agreement more than doubles” these institutions’ contributions to Providence, Smiley said. “They create thousands of jobs for Providence residents, support hundreds of small businesses and provide educational and community benefits throughout our neighborhoods.”

He also noted that the city will receive “almost $450 million in contributions from these institutions over the next two decades,” which will go towards investing in schools, green spaces and infrastructure projects.

“When it comes to our largest nonprofit landowners, our colleges and universities are one side of the coin, (but) our hospitals are on the other,” Smiley added, calling for local hospital networks such as Lifespan “to come to the table with a meaningful contribution.”

Public schools, recreational programs

FY 2025 will mark Providence’s largest financial contribution to the Providence Public School District in the last seven years. The administration plans to provide an additional $3 million to PPSD, increasing Providence’s contribution to a total of $133 million.

In 2019, the state government took control of PPSD following a Johns Hopkins University study that found systemic educational shortcomings in the Providence public school system. The takeover will continue until the 2026-27 academic year.

“When I ran for mayor, I pledged to oversee the transition back to local control,” Smiley said.

The mayor noted improvements in educational accessibility, citing the city’s $400,000 contribution to 16 home-based childcare facilities. Smiley also highlighted the opening of three “modernized” schools, adding that the city is in the process of constructing three more — a cumulative $240 million investment.

“These new schools will be true assets of twenty-first-century education,” Smiley said.

The mayor’s budget also outlines $48,000 of additional contributions to recreational programs for public school students.

Public works, climate resiliency

The proposal also outlines a 4% increase in public works funding for FY 2025 from $30.5 million to $31.8 million. 

Parking administration will receive $646,935 in city funds — a $49,000 increase from FY 2024. In his address, Smiley announced that “later this week, the Department of Public Works will be rolling out modernized parking meters throughout the city.”

A large portion of the public works budgeting aims to address recent flooding and severe storms resulting from climate change. “We must be ready to address the impacts of severe rain at any moment,” Smiley said. “That means proactively investing in climate readiness infrastructure that protects our community.”

The proposal allocates an additional $150,000 to sewer construction, representing an 11% increase to $1.5 million for FY 2025. It also outlines a 6% increase in environmental control funding from $15 million to $15.9 million.

“We are upgrading our stormwater and sewer infrastructure to be able to handle the increased volume of rainwater that we’re now seeing and projecting into the future,” Smiley said. He also added that the city has set aside $3 million for improvements to the Providence Hurricane Barrier.

Smiley also highlighted the city’s sustainability objectives. “In the last several months, I was proud to sign three pieces of legislation that will decrease our carbon footprint,” he said.

Last month, the mayor signed a city ordinance requiring all city-owned buildings to reach carbon neutrality by 2040, The Herald previously reported. While these actions seek to aid the city’s sustainability goals, the proposed budget outlines a $1.3 million decrease in sustainability funding from $7.2 million to $5.9 million.

Smiley’s administration hopes that the budget will set Providence up for success “not just in the next year, but in the next decade.”

“By continuing to bring in new businesses and residents, we will grow our tax base without increasing taxes, and we will continue to provide the highest level of city services,” Smiley said. 

Public comment hearings regarding the budget proposal will be held on May 7 and June 4. The budget proposal holds a tentative adoption date of June 20.

Tom Li

Tom Li is a Metro Editor covering the Health & Environment and Development & Infrastructure beats. He is from Pleasanton, California, and is concentrating in Economics and International & Public Affairs. He is an avid RIPTA passenger and enjoys taking (and criticizing) personality tests in his free time.

Avani Ghosh

Avani Ghosh is a Metro Editor covering politics & justice and community & activism. She is a sophomore from Ohio studying Health & Human Biology and International & Public Affairs. She is an avid earl grey enthusiast and can be found making tea in her free time.

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