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Providence: A new culture in City Hall – Mayor Smiley’s FY25 Budget

Photo: Pamela Bhatia, Artistic Images

Proposed FY25 budget strengthens the city’s financial position, improves city services and includes historic investment in education 

Mayor Brett P. Smiley today delivered his budget address for fiscal year 2025 to the Providence City Council, local leaders and community members. The proposed budget underscores Mayor Smiley’s commitment to investing in high quality city services, public safety and education while also strengthening Providence’s financial position and setting the city up for success for decades to come. 

“This budget outlines strategic investments in the quality-of-life issues that matter most to our community and sets the groundwork for strong, sustainable financial growth,” said Mayor Brett Smiley. “We are building on our year one milestones and continuing to prioritize investments in public safety, housing, education and climate resiliency. This is a responsible budget that more effectively and efficiently utilizes city funds to serve our community. I am looking forward to collaborating with the City Council to pass this budget.”  

While many cities across the country are facing difficult financial shortcomings with federal funding coming to a close, Mayor Smiley proposed a balanced budget, with no reliance on federal funding and no increase to taxes for residents and businesses. Since taking office, the Smiley Administration has shifted away from relying on one-time federal dollars for annual expenses and has instead leveraged American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to complete impactful and tangible investments that will benefit the community for generations to come. 

“I am incredibly proud to be proposing a responsible, balanced budget that delivers on my promise of not raising taxes for our residents or business owners,” said Mayor Brett Smiley. “We have successfully avoided the dangerous fiscal cliff that other municipalities are facing while also continuing to make investments that improve our local quality of life and move Providence forward. This past year we maximized every federal dollar available to us on high-need, high-impact programs that will have long-term benefits for our neighbors.”  

The Smiley Administration has used the remaining ARPA funding to invest in critical infrastructure repairs, impactful initiatives and improvements to the city’s parks and greenspaces. The City allocated $4 million to enhance areas such as India Point Park, Merino Park and the Woonasquatucket River area, utilizing one-time federal pandemic relief funds on projects that will improve the community for decades to come. These enhancements are part of the city’s coordinated effort to establish and revitalize safe outdoor spaces in every Providence neighborhood. 

In response to the ongoing housing crisis, Mayor Smiley has invested in both immediate supports and long-term solutions to support the development of housing options at every price point. The City has invested $29.2M in the Providence Housing Trust to help boost the supply of high-quality, affordable homes and has invested in over 400 emergency shelter beds for residents. The Smiley Administration is also collaborating across departments and in partnership with the City Council to incentivize new housing development. Through collaboration with neighborhood groups, non-profits and developers, the City facilitated the creation of 843 new housing units in Providence last year, with over 500 additional units already underway.     

“While the statewide housing crisis is disproportionately impacting Providence, we are responding by addressing the immediate needs of our most vulnerable neighbors while also investing in long-term housing solutions,” said Mayor Brett Smiley. “Through strategic investments and effective policymaking, we are beginning to make progress on sustainable, long-term solutions but there is still work to be done to ensure that every resident of Providence has access to safe, affordable housing.”    

Last year Providence reached a landmark payment in lieu of taxes agreement with the city’s private colleges and universities that more than doubled the volunteer payments from the last agreement, representing a 138 percent increase. The $223 million agreement also established increased collaboration measures between the city and these institutions to better support the needs of our community and improve the quality of life of our neighborhoods.  

“The PILOT agreement that we reached with the city’s colleges and universities last year is one of the most generous agreements in the country and is beginning to serve as a national model for agreements in communities across the country,” said Mayor Brett Smiley. “This agreement underscores how anchor institutions can drive community development and shared prosperity. Most importantly, the funding from this agreement has helped to ensure that Providence can continue to provide the highest-quality city services for years to come.” 

To better meet the needs of residents and business owners, the Smiley Administration launched a Community Satisfaction Survey after taking office last year, and again earlier this year, to gauge satisfaction with city services and learn how the city could better meet the needs of the community. Feedback from that survey has served as a framework for the Smiley Administration’s targeted investments to ensure that City Hall is both proactive and responsive in addressing the most important needs of every resident and business. Last year, Providence allocated more than $87 million to improve roads, sidewalks, parks and green spaces, top issues that were reflected in the survey. The City is also launching a new PVD 311 system later this year designed to more effectively respond user requests. 

Residents and businesses also responded that there is more work needed to enhance public safety, with businesses owners responding that public safety was the number one issuing impacting them. In response, Mayor Smiley has prioritized investments in public safety in every neighborhood to ensure all those who live, work and visit Providence feel safe. Under the leadership of Colonel Oscar L. Perez, Jr., the Providence Police have removed hundreds of illegal guns from community streets, confiscated over 200 ATVs and increased measures to combat speeding violations and excessive vehicle noise pollution.   

Notably, the Providence Fire Department launched a new EMS pilot program last year and expanded the initiative this year. The pilot program utilizes EMS units that are assigned bicycle details in and around Downtown and are aimed at providing rapid response to everything from opioid overdoses to mental health emergencies.  

Mayor Smiley’s proposed FY25 budget also includes the largest investment to the Providence Public Schools District in seven years, increasing the city’s contribution by $3 million. This historic investment builds on Providence’s commitment to supporting education. Within the past year the Smiley Administration has invested over $400,000 to support sixteen home-based childcare facilities. This funding helps to improve quality, increase enrollment and has provided 133 children with better early learning facilities.  

“There is no asset more important to Providence than our people, and that starts with our students,” said Mayor Brett Smiley. “In collaboration with our partners, Providence is moving forward on programs and initiatives that provide better educational outcomes for our students, starting with our youngest learners. Together we are providing improved access to quality after school activities, supporting critically important home-based childcare facilities and investing in long overdue repairs to our school facilities because the children of Providence deserve to learn in modern, state of the art classrooms.” 

In response to the growing threats posed by climate change, Mayor Smiley has prioritized investments that build a more resilient city. The Smiley Administration is investing in innovative solutions that make our city more sustainable and less vulnerable to the impacts of extreme weather. These investments include funds for critical repairs to the Providence Hurricane Barrier and enhancements to stormwater and sewer systems to better manage the increasing volume of severe storms and flash floods. Additionally, in collaboration with the City Council, Mayor Smiley signed legislation committing all city buildings to reach carbon neutrality by 2040.   

“This budget tackles our biggest challenges head-on and focuses on real results for our community,” said Mayor Brett Smiley. “We are investing in our schools, paving the way for more housing, fortifying our climate readiness and putting the city in a stronger financial position, all while better meeting the needs of our community with the highest level of city services”. 

Mayor Smiley’s full proposed FY25 budget will be posted online at and is subject to approval by the Providence City Council. 

To read the full speech presented by Mayor Smiley, click and scroll using the area at the right of the attached document.

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