Wow. This is a pretty irresponsible way to budget.
The council Finance Committee unanimously approved a $363.9-million tax levy Monday night without passing a corresponding spending plan, making marginal reductions to Mayor Jorge Elorza’s proposed tax rates on owner-occupied homes and rental properties.
State officials agree and have sent a letter to Mayor Jorge Elorza and Council President Luis Aponte expressing alarm.
In a letter sent Tuesday, Auditor General Dennis Hoyle and state revenue director Robert Hull said they understand the city’s need to send tax bills to residents as soon as possible, but called the committee’s decision to approve the tax levy separate from the rest of the budget “ill advised.”
“All components of the budget – both planned revenues and expenditures – must be included to demonstrate that the budget is balanced,” the two officials wrote. “We note that the tax levy was decreased without specific expenditure decreases leaving the budget temporarily unbalanced.”
The city is rushing to get tax bills out so as to minimize the interest it has to pay on a deferred payment to the city’s pension fund. This sure is the wrong way to do it, however. It’s difficult not to believe that the Finance Committee’s irresponsible action here is not mainly inspired by this being an election year [see correction below] and a strong desire to be able to tell voters that they marginally reduced the city’s very high taxes.
Scratch that last theory. WPRI’s Dan McGowan has contacted me and advised that this is not an election year for Providence Council members as they serve four year terms.