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DaSilva delivers draft East Providence FY20-21 budget

Meets deadline as written in charter on final day allowed

By Mike Rego
Posted 9/18/20

EAST PROVIDENCE — The administration of East Providence Mayor Bob DaSilva released its draft of the FY2020-2021 budget to the City Council and the general public late Thursday afternoon, Sept. …

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DaSilva delivers draft East Providence FY20-21 budget

Meets deadline as written in charter on final day allowed

Posted

EAST PROVIDENCE — The administration of East Providence Mayor Bob DaSilva released its draft of the FY2020-2021 budget to the City Council and the general public late Thursday afternoon, Sept. 17, doing so at the deadline for its submission as written in the City Charter.

Per charter, the executive must submit a proposed budget to the legislature for the next fiscal year 45 days prior to the end of the current one, which takes place annual on October 31.

The proposed budget recommends General Fund expenditures of $169,051,000, a $4.3 million increase over FY19-20 spending and a tax rate increase of approximately three percent year-over-year.

The city is currently working under a budget approved by the council of $165.8 million that included a 2.3 percent tax increase.

Of the total General Fund expenditure increase, city operating expenditures would increase by $2.6 million, including a request by the school department of an additional $285,000 and an appropriation of $1.4 million to fund future debt payments for the new East Providence High School. The latter of which, the administration said, makes up one-third of the proposed tax rate increase.

The total FY20-21 budget requested for the district by the central office and approved by the School Committee in late August was $50,420,351 up from $50,124,777 in FY19-20.

“This budget was prepared to not only meet the financial challenges of funding our new high school and fulfilling the fixed contractual employee obligations that pre-date this Administration, but also to reflect the uncertainties and hardships that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to our City,” Mayor DaSilva was quoted as saying in a press release noting submission of the draft.

He continued, “We believe this budget keeps our residents and businesses safe, our city service levels high, our infrastructure in repair, and our parks and recreational facilities maintained, beautiful and enjoyable.”

Most of the city’s $2.6 million operating expenditure increases are due to contractual obligations with personnel, escalations in non-controllable costs and fully funding annual required pension (ARC) contributions.

The following six items total $2.2 million of the overall city operating increase:

  • City regular salaries and other compensation are budgeted to increase by approximately $601,000. The increase is associated with either the contractual two percent salary increases for our police and fire departments or contractual step increases across all departments. The two percent salary increase for Police and Fire alone totaled approximately $500,000. The increase in salaries occurred despite our reducing full-time employees (FTEs) from last year’s budget by seven and delaying the start date for four DPW vacant positions until midyear. No COLA raises have been budgeted for all other union employees, non-union employees, or for our department heads.
  • The police and fire annual required pension contributions (ARC) increased a combined $462,000 mainly due to this administration’s choice to follow our actuary’s recommendation and adopt more actuarially conservative assumptions than what previously had been used to ensure that future generations in East Providence are not unfairly burdened with police and fire pension costs.
  • Healthcare costs for fiscal year 2021 have increased by $682,000 and reflect an 11 percent increase to health insurance premiums.
  • Refuse/disposal costs increased by $209,000 due to the expansion of the automated trash cart program ($155,000) and overall higher tipping and recycling fees.
  • The finance department budgeted $100,000 for new accounting software to replace outdated and unserviceable software programs.
  • An $122,000 increase in the general liability insurance premiums for fiscal year 2021.
  • In the addition, the press release noted the administration is proposing in fiscal year 2021 to restore one percentage point to our homestead exemption bringing it from 13 percent to 14 percent “to reduce the tax increase impact on our homeowners, particularly our senior citizens on fixed income.”

The full FY20-21 draft budget can be viewed at https://stories.opengov.com/eastprovidenceri/published/iNesDQzug.

The council has already scheduled several workshops to review the submission from both the city and the school department, are scheduled to take place the evenings of September 22 and 24 as well as October 1. Each workshop is slated to begin at 6:30 p.m. According to a preliminary opinion of the City Solicitor’s office, October 24 is the last day to pass budget and still override a potential veto by the mayor, as provided in the charter.

Key dates in the process are as follows:

  • October 7, last day to advertise for a public hearing on the budget
  • October 9, last day to advertise any increases to the total budget made by the council
  • October 14, according to a preliminary opinion of the City Solicitor’s office the last day the council can take action if it wishes to avoid any possibility of a veto by the mayor
  • October 24, according to a preliminary opinion of the City Solicitor’s office the last day to pass budget and still override a potential veto by the mayor, as provided in the charter.
  • Saturday, Oct. 31, end of current fiscal year
    Sunday, Nov. 1, new fiscal year begins

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Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email mrego@eastbaymediagroup.com.