Gov. Raimondo would be ‘inclined to support’ $20M ProvPort bond

Governor Raimondo speaks at the dedication of a barge at ProvPort. (Photo by Dan McGowan/WPRI 12)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo said Monday she would be “inclined to support” a $20-million bond referendum question to help the organization that controls more than 100 acres of land on the Port of Providence expand.

Raimondo said she believes it would be “appropriate” for voters to decide if they want to back a $20-million bond that would be used by ProvPort to acquire and develop approximately 15 acres of land north of Thurbers Avenue near Allens Avenue.

“We’re working through it now,” Raimondo told reporters following a dedication ceremony for a new barge at ProvPort. “I certainly support investments in infrastructure and we’re working with ProvPort to finalize the details of that particular proposal.”

Raimondo did not say whether she expects state lawmakers to attach the $20-million proposal to her own proposal to borrow $70 million to rebuild piers at Quonset. Officials at ProvPort have said they want one port-related question on the November ballot.

“ProvPort is a crown jewel in Rhode Island,” Raimondo said. “Over 5,000 people are employed here.”

The ProvPort proposal is supported by Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio, but it’s unclear if the House will back the plan. Ruggerio cited “budget meetings” as the reason he could not attend Monday’s barge dedication. The House Finance Committee is expected to unveil a revised budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 Tuesday.

Supporters of the $20-million bond for ProvPort say the money would help to fund the beginning of ProvPort’s multi-phase plan to develop a new deep-water general cargo port marine terminal on the waterfront along Allens Avenue. Bill Fischer, a spokesman for ProvPort, has said the expansion is necessary because the organization “has run out of space” on its current campus.

ProvPort, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, purchased its campus from the city for $16.4 million in 1994 as part of Providence’s effort to close a projected budget deficit. The organization, which now has 13 tenants, brought in $7.5 million in revenue in 2014, according to its annual IRS Form 990. ProvPort CEO William Brody’s compensation package totaled $225,000 in 2014, the document states.

As part of an agreement with the city, ProvPort pays 6% of its gross revenue to the city in lieu of real estate taxes and its tenants all pay state and local taxes. Unless a new deal is reached, all of ProvPort’s assets will revert to city ownership in 2036.

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Dan McGowan ( ) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan

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