Providence: Small Enough to Fail?

Angel's deficit-busting game face

With our national dialogue dominated by talk of economic recession and the GOP circus primaries, it’s often easy to overlook what’s going on behind the scenes in our beloved city. Well, rest assured — things are going to shit here too. At a press conference Thursday afternoon, Mayor Angel Taveras stated that Providence is in danger of bankruptcy. The city’s deficit stands at $22.5 million. If the current budget stays on track, Providence could be out of money by June.

Things are looking bleak, but  Taveras — who already significantly cut the projected deficit for 2012 — has a plan. He intends to cut benefits for retirees, specifically the compensations for cost of living increases in their pensions. He’s also looking to the city’s nonprofit organizations (read: this University) to pay up. Brown doesn’t pay any taxes to the city (as some parkgoers politely pointed out last month), and Taveras stated Thursday he would support legislation that would force us to give money to the city. Seeing as our total property tax would be over $30 million, this isn’t exactly music to Ruth’s ears.

You could say Providence has run out of Flex Points and is calling up Mom for extra declining balance Bear Bucks. Taveras’ own apt metaphor is that Brown is in the middle of a “Category 5 hurricane.” And we thought the climes were calmer this year…


  1. George

    While it’s technically true that Brown doesn’t pay any taxes, it has a Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreement with the city.

  2. Silver

    Just as a note, the legislation the general assembly is discussing regarding Brown’s tax thing would only result in ~4 million in property taxes, not 30 million; the buildings Brown uses for educational/academic purposes would still be tax-exempt under the general law that provides tax-exempt status to all churches, hospitals, and universities in RI.

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