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By Rebecca Keister
PBN Staff Writer
PROVIDENCE - Mayor Angel Taveras called for unity in moving forward to help the city recover from its economic crisis in presenting the fiscal year 2013 budget Monday evening – a budget that relies on the passage of the Providence Pension Protection Plan and includes assumption of more support for public education.
“Rarely in government do we have two cut and dried choices: This is one of those rare times,” said Taveras while addressing the city council.
“We can choose to act and position Providence to the next great American comeback story,” he said. “Or we can nothing, cling to the unreasonable hope that this will resolve itself and watch the city that we love fall into a black hole and make negative national headlines because of our plight.”
Taveras’ presented a $683.4 million budget that holds spending level and invests $7 million in the city’s rainy day fund.
The Providence Pension Protection Plan, he said, will save pensions for current employees and city retirees and save taxpayers at least $16 million while reducing the city’s unfunded pension liability by $236 million.
“My budget depends on this council passing comprehensive, sustainable and structural pension reform,” said Taveras. “I urge you to act now.”
The budget proposes a $19.7 million increase in public education which includes expected state funding, and a $4.8 million increase in total tax revenue from an expanded tax base.
Taveras said his budget presents a comprehensive and balanced approach centered on fostering economic growth and improving education.
The tax rate, in the proposed budget, will not rise.
“I know that taxpayers are carrying an almost unbearable burden and I do not want to add to it, especially when so many are struggling to find a job,” added Taveras.