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Friday, October 28, 2016

City Council Leadership: Vote “No” on Question 8

The Providence City Council leadership today issued the following statement regarding the $40 Million Infrastructure Bond Question on the November ballot:

“The City Council leadership recommends that taxpayers vote no on Question 8 because it is not financially prudent and it is not attached to a responsible spending commitment.

“From the beginning, Council leadership was not convinced that the Mayor’s $40 million bond proposal was the best choice for Providence taxpayers. However, we agreed to accommodate the Mayor's request and allow him to add a significant debt to the City's balance sheets if he could prove to the public that the money was going to be spent on projects with real merit; these projects were to be outlined in advance of the election to ensure an open and transparent process, and half of the funds were to be distributed equitably among all of Providence's neighborhoods – not just concentrated in a handful of politically influential voter districts. The Mayor attempted to wriggle out of this agreement at the last minute, hoping the timing would put political pressure on the Council to hand him a blank check.

“The ‘slush fund’ claim, which has been so irresponsibly argued by both the Mayor and some within the Council, is a falsehood that is being used to distract from the real question about this bond: why should the taxpayers of Providence provide the Mayor with $40 million to use as he pleases, free of oversight and public input? We were not presented with an answer that we felt was satisfactory for the residents of our neighborhoods—the people who would be on the hook for repaying the bond.

“No one can argue that the City of Providence is facing tremendous financial challenges. At a time when the city’s bond rating hovers just above ‘junk,’ and at a time when the city is already billions of dollars in debt, the Elorza administration must learn to live within its means and budget for major projects in advance. While we certainly support infrastructure repair and improvements, it is worth noting that our city’s infrastructure did not incur $40 million in deterioration overnight. We encourage Mayor Elorza to use foresight during the next budget season and adopt a more responsible, transparent approach to address the City of Providence’s many needs.”