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June 2023

Council Passes and Mayor Signs $583 Million FY 2024 Budget

On Monday, June 26, Mayor Brett Smiley signed the city’s $583 million FY 2024 budget that takes effect on July 1.

Earlier in June, City Councilors approved the final passage of the budget by a vote of 12 to 1. The FY 2024 budget modifies residential and commercial property tax rates and helps owner-occupied residents. If strong PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreements with tax-exempt institutions are secured, the budget allows for significant investments in improving quality of life issues for city residents, including the purchase and training of sound meters to enforce high levels of noise.

“The budget received broad support on Council because it is a fiscally responsible budget that achieves savings for our residents without sacrificing quality of life city services. The Council listened to our neighbors hit hard by steep home revaluations and significantly lowered proposed property tax increases,” said Council President Rachel Miller. “The FY24 budget lays the groundwork for strong PILOT agreements with our tax-exempt institutions, freezing non-essential hiring until we have signed agreements. I thank Mayor Smiley and his team for their open collaboration in the process. A special thank you to the Council Finance Committee and Chair Helen Anthony, who spent many late nights examining department budgets and asking thorough questions to save taxpayers money.”



FY 2024 City Budget property taxes:            


·    Residential property tax rate increases to $18.35 per $1,000 (a decrease from the mayor’s proposal of $18.70 but an increase from the current rate of $17.80)


·    $226 tax increase for the average-priced home ($222 less than the budget proposed in April)


·    Commercial property tax decreases to $35.10 per $1,000 (an increase from the mayor’s proposal of $34.10 but a decrease from the current rate of $35.40)


·    Homestead exemption decreases to 43% from the current 45% (increases from the mayor’s proposal of 40%) *Homestead exemption is a tax exemption for those residents living in their homes



FY 2024 Budget highlights include:


·    $4.1 million in tax savings achieved by the Council


·    Hiring freeze for new non-essential jobs (This is the result of a $7.1 million shortfall in PILOT, payment in lieu of taxes funds from tax-exempt city hospitals and universities) 


·    $1.5 million allocated for neighborhood infrastructure projects (playgrounds, school buildings, and street safety improvements)


·    Funding for a lateral Providence Fire Academy and a second Providence Police Academy (to begin approximately in February)


Education Consultant

Councilors approved a resolution authorizing City Council President Rachel Miller to hire Steve Smith of Steve Smith Consulting, LLC, to provide education policy advice and guidance as the Providence Public School system transitions back to local city control. Smith has more than 40 years of education experience, including time as a teacher and President of the local chapter of the American Federation of Teachers. Smith also brings 20 years of experience and understanding of the legislative process as a former Rhode Island State Representative.


Gender-Neutral Bathrooms in Public Buildings

In the spirit of inclusivity and equality for the non-binary gender community, councilors approved a resolution that pledges to draft and pass an ordinance mandating that every public building in the City of Providence includes at least one gender-neutral bathroom. 

New 25 Year Lease Approved for Public Charter School

 Councilors, on a vote of 8 to 5, approved a resolution authorizing Mayor Brett Smiley to enter into a new 25-year lease agreement between the city and Achievement First Rhode Island, a public charter school based at the former Charles N. Fortes Elementary School on Daboll Street. The terms of the new agreement provide Achievement First with an initial five-year lease with the option of four five-year extensions. The lease agreement contains several oversight measures and benchmarks for Achievement First to meet.   


Terms of the lease include:

·        Achievement First will pay the city $1 a year in rent


·        Achievement First agrees to allocate a minimum of $2.5 million at the property for capital improvements, maintenance, and upkeep during the initial five-year term and each five year extension


·        Achievement First will be required to conduct a needs assessment and improvement plan during each five-year period (submitted to the Council within one year of the start of each term)


·        Achievement First to provide annual progress reports to the City Clerk on capital improvement work throughout the life of the lease

June Events

Councilman John Goncalves (Ward 1) joined Senator Jack Reed and members of the community for a ceremonial street designation of Portugal Parkway – on India Street. Councilman Goncalves introduced the resolution, honoring Providence’s rich Portuguese heritage.

Councilwoman and Deputy Majority Leader Mary Kay Harris (Ward 11) was honored as a 2023 Greater Providence YMCA “Hero” for her years of work and community service in South Providence. Councilwoman Harris was joined by fellow councilors and four other honorees.   

Councilors celebrated Pride Month in support of the LGBTQ+ community. The Pride flag was raised outside city hall with a special celebration in the council chamber that included Mayor Smiley.

City Archivist Caleb Horton in conjunction with Stages of Freedom produced an exhibit on the third floor of city hall called “Black Lavender: Black Gay Men in Rhode Island.” Council President Rachel Miller welcomed guests to explore the exhibit, which is still open and free to visitors.

Despite heavy rain, Council President Rachel Miller, Pro Tempore Juan Pichardo, Whip Miguel Sanchez, and Councilwoman Shelley Peterson marched with council office staff in solidarity during the Pride Illuminated Night Parade. What energy on the parade route downtown!

Councilor Sue AnderBois (Ward 3) and Council President Miller (Ward 13) helped - along with other city and state leaders - cut the ribbon on the new Hope High School auditorium. The construction project represents phase one of a $20 million renovation to the 1936 school building. 

Councilors continue to keep their colleague and friend, Councilwoman Helen Anthony (Ward 2), in their thoughts and wish her a speedy recovery. Anthony was injured in California by an ATV while hiking in early June. Here is the latest message from the councilwoman’s family.

“Thank you for the many notes of cheer and strength to Helen and to her family. We are sending updates as we are able, so please do not interpret silence as anything other than doing our best in a challenging time.

Please know Helen is taking positive steps to recover each day. She remains in the ICU and is anxious to come home. Healing will take time, and we appreciate your patience. Her injuries are serious, but anyone who knows Helen knows that her generosity of spirit is matched by her tenacity.

 We are grateful to Helen’s colleagues at Handy Law and at the Providence City Council, who have picked up Helen’s work and moved forward. We want to assure you that day by day, Helen is moving forward too.

Thank you so much for your kindness and positive energy. We can feel it.”

Please send messages to Helen to [email protected], and if you wish to contribute in some manner, donations can be made in her name to Crossroads RI Domestic Violence Program crossroadsri.org/donate  

Providence's Comprehensive Plan

Once every 10 years, the City updates its Comprehensive Plan, the urban planning policy document that guides growth and development in the city. The Comp Plan is directly connected to street improvements, safety, housing development, growth, preservation, parks, neighborhood amenities, climate change – and everything related to the environment and zoning. Council President Miller encouraged residents and business owners to participate during the city's June launch.

The Comp Plan "Open House" at PCTA on June 22 was a success. Please visit plan.providenceri.gov for future events throughout the summer and fall coming to your neighborhoods.

Fireworks for the Fourth! Help keep your family, friends, and neighbors safe during the holiday weekend. Only ground and hand-held sparklers are permitted in Rhode Island. Any firework that shoots into the air is illegal. Call 401-272-3121 to report activity.


The city is planning an evening of family fun, live entertainment, and a professional fireworks display at India Point Park! The main stage kicks off at 6 PM with a performance by local artist Becky Bass.


July 2 at 6 PM (rain date July 3)

India Point Park

The Providence City Council is the legislative body that serves the many diverse communities of the City of Providence. Each council member serves as an advocate for their neighborhood and as a liaison between residents and the various departments and services our city has to offer.

To find your Councilor, click here. Already know your Councilor? Learn more about their work here.

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