Mayor Elorza still wants to borrow millions of dollars for infrastructure improvements

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza said Wednesday he still wants to borrow millions of dollars for infrastructure improvements, even though his administration and the City Council couldn’t come to terms on a spending plan for various projects last year.

Elorza used part of his State of the City address to highlight the overwhelming approval of a $40-million bond by city voters in November and make the case that the city “can’t afford not to make” a significant investment in its infrastructure over the next five years.

“Over the coming months, I will be working with the City Council to make sure that we fulfill that mandate and pass an infrastructure bond so we can literally build the foundation to keep the city strong from the ground up,” Elorza said during his address.

Elorza recently submitted a five-year capital improvement plan to the City Plan Commission, outlining $120 million in expenditures that range from maintenance for roads and sidewalks to fire station renovations and park improvements.

Speaking to reporters after his speech, Elorza said he still wasn’t sure how Providence plans to move forward with borrowing the funds. In the past, he has said the inability to reach an agreement on a spending plan with the council prior to Election Day meant that the city couldn’t borrow the $40 million approved by voters.

His office has since said that it could borrow the funds through the Providence Public Buildings Authority, which would not require voter approval. On Wednesday, Elorza wouldn’t rule out holding a special election to seek voter approval on a bond again.

A spokesperson for Elorza declined to say how much the city will seek to borrow.

Here’s a list of projects the administration has proposed over the next five years.