Mayor Elorza delivers 2017 State of the City Address proclaiming a change in the narrative of Providence

Citing Considerable Progress, Mayor Elorza Delivers 2017 State of the City Address Proclaiming a Change in the Narrative of Providence 

PROVIDENCE, RI – Mayor Jorge O. Elorza Wednesday delivered his annual State of the City Address in the Council Chambers of Providence City Hall. Presenting a narrative focused on a rising Providence, the Mayor highlighted stabilizing city finances, substantial and strategic community investments, notable development underway in neighborhoods across the city, and a focus on reaching new heights in education. Reaffirming his commitment to serving every single resident of the capital city and highlighting the importance of public engagement, the mayor offered an invitation to the residents of Providence to be a part of the rewriting of the story of Providence.  

Citing the immediate evaluation of the state of the city upon taking office 2 years ago and acknowledging the challenges faced at the time, Mayor Elorza outlined a series of efforts and successes under his administration to strengthen neighborhoods, improve Providence schools, offer high-quality city services to residents and businesses, enhance infrastructure, and continue the city’s progress towards good financial health through long-term planning. 

City Finances:
Mayor Elorza noted that at the end of FY 15, the city faced a $13 million cumulative deficit and that by reforming the way the city puts budgets together, FY 16 ended with the largest surplus in the city’s records. This was recognized by Fitch Ratings which upgraded Providence’s bond rating last year. Furthermore, the city will be paying off its cumulative deficit sooner than anyone expected and is poised to once again have a rainy day fund by the end of FY 17. To address long-term challenges, the administration engaged residents and professionals to review long-term prospects and make recommendations that will help address the city’s long-term structural deficit once-and-for-all.

Investing considerably in infrastructure and repairing roads, bridges, sewers and the buildings that residents use each day is among the highest priorities for the administration. To establish a predictable and reliable schedule for investments, the administration recently submitted a 5-year Capital Improvement Plan to the City Plan Commission.

Asserting a need to invest in the city’s students, the Mayor touched on his administrations initiatives to improve the structures and supports that surround Providence schools. Beginning with the transformation of the school department’s central office, the mayor went on to highlight improved Math and English proficiency in virtually all elementary schools, an investment of over $2 million to purchase over 8,000 new laptops for students, a scheduled $10 million investment in repairs and upgrades to school buildings, and a commitment to increasing the city’s contribution to schools for the first time in six years. 

City Services:
With an emphasis on making Providence a city that works for all its residents and the importance of providing high-quality city services, Mayor Elorza touted the city’s PVD311 system that makes it easier than ever to get in touch with City Hall. Thanks to close work between the Mayor’s Center for City Services, the Department of Public Works, and collaborating community organizations, Mayor Elorza announced that there has been a reduction of potholes throughout the city by 80-85%.

Parks and Recreation: 
With large investment from the administration, the Providence Recreation Department was able to introduce 58 new recreation programs in the past 2 years, including low-cost summer programming. The department also offered a winter swim program and a new recreation center was opened at Pleasant View Elementary School. Even more, with a 3.5 million investment, the city’s Parks Department has made 22 major renovations to neighborhood parks. 

The capital city currently has 25 significant projects under construction and 28 in the application process, which will bolster job creation, new businesses and innovative projects across city neighborhoods. The city also worked closely with state officials on the 6/10 connector redesign, a critical project that is set to not only address safety concerns and improve traffic conditions, but also reconnect neighborhoods.

Emphasizing the importance of community engagement and involvement in the planning for the success of the city, Mayor Elorza invited residents to attend 2 upcoming community events that will allow residents to offer input, suggestions, and feedback regarding education and the upcoming All In: Moonshot Education Summit, as well as a long-term vision for the future of Kennedy Plaza.

A Citywide Conversation on Education is scheduled for tomorrow, Thursday, February 2, 2017 at 5:30pm, while a Citywide Conversation on a Long-term Vision for Kennedy Plaza is scheduled for Thursday, February, 16, 2017 at 5:00pm. Both events are open to the public and will be held at 444 Westminster Street in Providence.

(release from City of Providence)