David Cicilline Explains that He is Not Delusional, Because Spending Was Reined-In In the Years that Providence’s Budget Grew by 71 Million Dollars
Five days before my election to Congress, last November, I said that Providence was in “excellent financial condition.” Today, Mayor Angel Taveras faces a critical deficit, and people want to know whether I was delusional, not paying attention, or not telling the truth.I don’t think that the case for “not delusional” is proven through this op-ed.
It was none of the above…
Finding a way to close the nearly $60 million budget shortfall that I faced on my first day was urgent, as was establishing a plan to restore the city’s fiscal health.
Within two years, we reined in spending, cut hundreds of positions from city government, negotiated concessions from unions and enacted serious financial reforms, such as requiring employees for the first time in the city’s history to contribute to their health-care insurance and initiating long-overdue pension reform.
According to the annual figures that are compiled by the RI Division of Municipal Finance, municipal-side spending by the City of Providence in the first budget of the Cicilline administration (FY2004) increased by 19.5% over the previous year. In the fiscal year after that, municipal-side spending grew by a further 3%. On the education side of the budget, spending grew by 7% over the previous year in Cicilline’s first budget, then remained level in his second…
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Source: Division of Municipal Affairs of the Rhode Island Department of Revenue.
In terms of absolute numbers, spending by the City Providence increased from $490.8 million in the fiscal year that preceded Mayor Cicilline’s first budget to $562.3 in the fiscal year covered by his second budget. Apparently, increasing a budget by $71.5 million over a two-year period is what Congressman Cicilline refers to as “reining in spending”.
And while Providence’s official financial report shows that the Ciciline administration did cut almost 200 positions from the city payroll in his first two years in office, it also shows that there were 31 more municipal-side positions in Providence in Mayor Cicilline’s final fiscal year than there had been at the start of his first fiscal-year…
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Source: City of Providence, Rhode Island, Comprehensive Annual Financial Report, Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 2010. Page 85.
(The major gain in municipal-side personnel in the latter-half of the Cicilline administration was in the area classified as “public works, miscellaneous”. Also, there are now 40+ more building inspectors in Providence than in the pre-Cicilline days, though in terms of head-count, this is cancelled out by the fact there are 40+ fewer people in the “Firefighting department”).
Finally, it should be noted that Congressman Cicilline does not claim in today’s op-ed that 445 positions were eliminated during his tenure of mayor of Providence, a claim which he had repeated several times after the story Providence’s “surprising” financial troubles broke after Mayor Tavares’ innauguration. The claim is not supported by the numbers in the city’s most recent financial report — but if the Congressman follows his existing pattern, maybe he will tell us what he really meant by this statement in a year or two.