Providence Finance Committee Cuts Taxes … Without Identifying Spending Cuts


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.

  • Timmothay

    I would agree that any budget committee or petitioner proposing budget cuts should show where those cuts are being made. We just had a similar issue here in Tiverton where a petitioner proposed a cut in the budget but did not supply a list of line items or defend and cuts in the public hearing process.

    • OceanStateCurrent

      Two points:

      1. It simply isn’t true that Budget #2 “proposed a cut.” It proposed increases in both taxes and spending, just less than the town government wanted.

      2. The irresponsible action decried in this post is the finalization of the budget, to the point of planning to send out tax bills, without a spending side. Tiverton’s budget process is not yet finished. The Budget Committee will set the line items before the tax bills go out. I’ve offered them suggestions for more than twice the reductions to their initial budget than they need.

  • Ray Mathieu

    Great to see Hull and Hoyle weigh in on their concerns about a potentially unbalanced PVD budget. Hopefully, Elorza & Co will heed their advice.