Providence, Rhode Island

From Ballotpedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Grade2.pngB-
Budget
{{{1}}}
Meetings Y
600px-Yes check.png
Elected Officials Y
600px-Yes check.png
Administrative Officials Y
600px-Yes check.png
Permits, zoning Y
600px-Yes check.png
Audits Y
600px-Yes check.png
Contracts P
Partial.png
Lobbying N
600px-Red x.png
Public Records N
600px-Red x.png
Local Taxes Y
600px-Yes check.png

School district websitesGuide.png
Transparency grading process

Providence is the capital city in Rhode Island. It is one of 22 cities in the state.

Website evaluation

Main article: Evaluation of Rhode Island city websites

The good

  • The Mayor and city council officials contact information are posted online.[1][2]
  • Agendas[3], minutes[4] and schedule[5] are available for council meetings.
  • Budget and audit reports are available[6][7]
  • Zoning information[8][9] and Building Permit information[10] are available on the website.
  • Information on bids and proposals are available[11]
  • Tax information is available.[12]

The bad

  • Lobbying information and ethics is not noted.
  • There is no checkbook register available.
  • Does not provide access to public records.

Public Employee Salaries

A 2009 Rhode Island Salary Survey included an annual salary of $131,000 for former Providence Mayor David Cicilline[13]

The Ocean State Policy Research Institute compiled salary data for the city of Providence for the years 2007-2009.[14]

Public pensions

Main article: Rhode Island public pensions

Providence Mayor Angel Taveras is calling on more than 800 city retirees to accept reduced pensions and less generous health care coverage to help the city avoid a bankruptcy filing. The mayor is seeking three changes:the suspension of future pension cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) until the system gets from its 32% funded level to 70 percent; a 20 percent health insurance co-share for retirees under the age of 65; and a transition to Medicare with a supplemental plan for those 65 and older.[15]

Providence's pension system is one reason why Rhode Island's capital and New England's second-largest city is on the verge of municipal bankruptcy. It faces a $23-$30 million structural budget deficit that is projected to rise to $67 million in four years. Today, pensions and other post-retirement benefits consume more than half of Providence's annual tax levy. Nevertheless, the city's pension fund is only about one-third funded, while 70 percent is considered the minimum for a relatively stable government system. All in all, it adds up to a $903 million unfunded pension liability.[16]

The biggest single cause of the problem is cost-of-living adjustments. The majority of city retirees receive a 3 percent annual COLA. But police and firefighters who retired in the late 1980s and early 1990s — 27 percent of all retired city workers — are eligible for 5-6 percent increases each year. A pension with a compounding 5 percent annual COLA doubles in 16 years; at 6 percent, the pension benefit doubles in 12-13 years.[17]

Under a May 2012 agreement reached between the city and union leaders the city would suspend annual cost-of- living adjustments for current and future retirees for the next decade. It would permanently end 5 percent and 6 percent annual increases given to about 600 former firefighters and police, and cap all future pensions at 1.5 times the state’s median annual household income, or almost $82,400. There are more than two dozen former public safety workers collecting pensions of more than $100,000 this year, including Gilbert McLaughlin, a fire chief who retired in 1991 at a salary of $63,510, who gets the most, at $196,813, according to the city. With a 6 percent cost-of-living adjustment, McLaughlin was on track to get $700,000 a year if he lived to 100.[18]

In November 2012 Providence firefighters overwhelmingly approved concessions with the city, which included a ten-year suspension of cost of living increases to their pensions. The vote is set for Jan. 2.[19]

Pension Deal Close

The city and union officials are in court attempting to settle the differences in pension settlement. The police and fire retirees supported the plan, which allows the city to cap all pensions, suspend COLAs for 11 years and eliminate 5 percent and 6 percent compounded COLAs for good while also moving retirees to Medicare, according to WPRI. But there are concerns over an opt-out date of April 1, 2013.[20]

Ruling

A court ruling March 12, 2013, gave the city the go-ahead with its plan to cap pensions for active and retired police and firefighters, suspend COLAs for 10 years, move retirees to Medicare and eliminate five and six-percent compounded COLAs for good.[21]

External links

References