Providence fiscal report says city avoided tough decisions

The Providence City Council on Wednesday released a report meant to help the city avoid fiscal meltdowns in the future.

Providence Mayor Angel Taveras inherited a two-year structural deficit of $180 million. The city council report puts part of the blame for that on the recession and deep cuts in state aid.

The report also says the prior administration of now-US Representative David Cicilline didn't recommend the difficult choices necessary to avoid a fiscal crisis. Council majority leader Seth Yurdin says the findings speak for themselves.

"The correction plan is a cautious report," Yurdin says. "It doesn't question the honesty, integrity, or the character of anybody involved. It's limited to the facts and is a candid review of our financial system."

The report was made by council fiscal adviser Gary Sasse and internal auditor Matthew Clarkin. It makes a series of recommendations, like establishing a minimum reserve goal for the city's rainy day fund. The council is slated to introduce those recommendations May fifth.

City Councilor John Igliozzi says the council tried to raise attention about the city's financial problems before they reached a crisis point.

Igliozzi, a frequent critic of Cicilline, says it was clear that Providence was on the wrong track before Cicilline left office.

"The numbers weren't adding up, and the council was talking about it on the record, in public hearings, anywhere they could, and not everybody was necessarily listening - leaders of the community, businesses, et cetera," Igliozzi says.

Cicilline, who won election to Congress last November, filling the seat formerly held by Patrick Kennedy, has defended his handling of the city's finances.

Do you have insight or expertise on this topic? Please email us, we'd like to hear from you.