Council backs request to state for East Providence Waterfront Commission funding

Authority currently receives no financial support from Smith Hill or city hall

By Mike Rego
Posted 5/24/19

EAST PROVIDENCE — The City Council, similar to its action pertaining to state climate change legislation, in unison at its May 21 meeting backed a resolution requesting the General Assembly provide …

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Council backs request to state for East Providence Waterfront Commission funding

Authority currently receives no financial support from Smith Hill or city hall

Posted

EAST PROVIDENCE — The City Council, similar to its action pertaining to state climate change legislation, in unison at its May 21 meeting backed a resolution requesting the General Assembly provide some sort of funding for the East Providence Waterfront Commission.

The resolution, according to its sponsor At-Large member Bob Rodericks, requests “equitable state financing be procured for the operation of the commission, which receives no backing at all from either the assembly or the city.”

The commission is a self-funded effort, deriving revenue from fees and permits associated with developments.

For Fiscal Year 2017-18, the commission had expenditures of some $72,500 on revenues of approximately $62,000. It closed the year with operating capital of about $98,000. The commission’s single largest expenditure (approx. $41,500) is the salary of Pam Sherrill, who serves both in the unpaid role as executive director and the part-time position, with no benefits, of waterfront planner. Its largest debit is rent (approx. $39,500) paid by the Eaton Corporation.

Through the third quarter of the current FY18-19, those figures are relatively static: (approx.) expenses, $75,000; revenue, $70,000; salary, $35,000; rent, $29,500. Like past years, the other significant annual expenditure is spent on legal services, about $25,000 through FY18-19 Q3 and capital of about $90,500 through FY18-19 Q3. The commission’s fees intake is up substantially year-to year, from some $21,000 in FY17-18 to about $40,000 through FY18-19 Q3.

“I put this forward after consultation with Chairman (Bill) Fazioli of the Waterfront Commission and some other members of that commission and also some of our state delegation,” Mr. Rodericks noted in his introductory remarks.

He added, “They (the commission) get zero dollars from the city and the state. And what this resolution does, it asks the state, not the city of East Providence, but for the state to sit down with the waterfront commission and come up with some funding for them. It doesn’t tie them down to a dollar figure at all.”

In urging support for the resolution, Mr. Rodericks noted the many benefits of the commission’s work and that the authority has done so without offering any tax breaks, specifically around the issue of tax increment financing.

Mr. Rodericks said the conjecture around TIFs “was a fallacy with some people. they thought we were giving the world away to let these developers come in. We’ve given them zero.”

The resolution had the backing of Mr. Fazioli, who Mr. Rodericks said called it “very important,” and members of the city’s assembly delegation, including Senator William Conley, who urged its writing, according to Mrs. Sherrill. Mrs. Sherrill, in attendance last week, said Sen. Conley recommended submitting the resolution for consideration by the assembly to begin the process of potential procurements.

Of the commission's financial position at the moment Mrs. Sherrill added, “Our expenses do exceed our income at this point, so it is not a sustainable operation.”

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