EAST PROVIDENCE — With little fanfare Wednesday night, Oct. 23, the East Providence City Council unanimously passed a budget for Fiscal Year 2013-14 by a 5-0 vote following a public hearing on the plan in the City Hall Chamber.
The key components of the budget, hashed out at previous meetings and workshops, include the raising of the property tax rate by .75 percent as well as freezing the Homestead Exemption decrease at 13 percent and the early pay tax incentive at 1.5 percent.
In addition, as part of the the $166,614,251 plan, the Council left intact the $72-plus million budget submitted by Schools Superintendent Kim Mercer, her first fiscal effort since taking charge of the department in the spring of this year.
“The members of the City Council worked very well together on this process and remained true to the five-year plan,” said Council President James Briden. “Highlights of the 2013-2014 budget include freezing the phasing out of the Homestead Exemption and Early Pay Incentive, cutting approximately $900,000 in expenditures, reducing the proposed tax rate increase to .75 percent, below the 1 percent increase proposed in the five-year plan, and setting aside approximately $3.7 million for the future tax year alignment synchronization bond.”
Of the two constituents to speak Wednesday night, School Committee member and Council meeting regular attendee Anthony Ferreira thanked his counterparts for leaving Mrs. Mercer’s budget as presented.
The other speaker Wednesday offered up a dissenting voice. Tom Riley, Chairman of the City Canvassing Committee, asked the Council to reconsider the removal of a part-time position in the department. Mr. Riley’s request was denied.
The Council and City Manager Peter Graczykowski previously deemed the position expendable because of the infrequency of elections, especially going forward when Council and School Committee elections will only be held once every four years beginning in 2014. A charter change to four-year terms for Councilors and Committee members was approved by voters in the November 2012 election.