Providence’s plan to borrow $45M for infrastructure improvements moving forward

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Providence City Council Finance Committee on Thursday approved a plan to borrow $45 million for infrastructure improvements throughout the city, clearing the way for the proposal to be vetted by the full council before it breaks for the month of August.

The five-member committee voted unanimously to allow the Providence Public Buildings Authority (PPBA) to borrow the funds without voter approval. The five-member board for the PPBA has also approved the proposal.

“The plan is the result of the council and administration working together for the public good,” Finance Committee John Igliozzi said in a statement. “The proposal plan equitably considers and addresses neighborhood needs and concerns city wide, and I’m happy to see much needed infrastructure improvements planned to improve the quality of life for Providence residents.”

The proposal will be considered by the City Council next week. The council takes the month of August off, but unlike the General Assembly, it meets for 11 months out of the year.

The $45-million bond is part of a broader capital improvement plan the committee approved Thursday. During the first two years of the plan, the city would spend $48.5 million on a wide array of projects, including recreational facility improvements, building repairs in City Hall and sewer repairs. About $23.5 million will be set aside for street paving and sidewalk repairs.

Other significant projects in the first two years of the plan include $3 million for remediation work on the police department’s firing range, $2 million for turf at Conley Stadium at Mount Pleasant High School, $335,000 for a seawall replacement at India Point Park and $275,000 for improvements to Waterplace Park in downtown.

Negotiating over the spending plan between the Elorza administration and the City Council appeared to go more smoothly than the failed attempt to reach an agreement over the same issue last year. While Providence voters overwhelmingly approved a $40-million bond question last November, the administration and the council could not come to terms on a plan for how to spend the proceeds that was required to be approved prior to Election Day.

“The City Council and the administration are jointly concerned about the need for infrastructure investments in the capital city,” Acting Council President Sabina Matos said in a statement. “This plan is the result of leadership and diligent efforts to address infrastructure needs both immediately and over the next five years.”

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