Overview of the Budget Process

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Providence City Hall

On Wednesday, April 17, Mayor Brett Smiley will present his proposed city budget.  The City Council then has the opportunity to review and amend it.  The process is explained here, and public input is encouraged.

PLEASE NOTE THAT CHANGES, INCLUDING MEETING DATES, MAY CHANGE OVER THE NEXT FEW MONTHS.  UPDATES WILL BE MADE TO: https://bit.ly/PVDBudgetGuide2024

The City of Providence has a budget of more than $560M and a fiscal year that runs from July 1 to June 30 of the following year. The city’s budget has 3 parts:

  • Operating Budget: staff and services including fire, snow removal, libraries, employee benefits.
  • Capital Budget: infrastructure projects including construction, road repair, and investments in climate resilience. Departments identify needs for the upcoming fiscal year and 4 year projections. This 5-year plan, called the Capital Improvement Plan, is a relatively new effort to coordinate efficiency and equity in Public Works, Parks and Recreation and Public Property. While projects may be detailed in the CIP, they must be approved in the budget each year to move forward. These investments are typically supported by bond money, CDBG (Community Development Block Grant) funds and Neighborhood Infrastructure Funds (NIF).
  • School Department: Our public schools are funded by a combination of local, state and federal funds and that budget is currently controlled by the RI Department of Education (RIDE). RIDE is not obligated to seek approval from the City Council for its budget, but the Council does approve the local funding portion. See Providence School Budget Office.


Who develops the city’s budget?

  • The Mayor’s team prepares a budget in the first few months of the year. A budget proposal is presented in a public Budget Address by the Mayor typically in mid to late April.
  • The city’s budget must be approved by the City Council, which can propose changes, and typically approves a final budget in mid-June. While the Council can influence what goes in the budget, it can’t increase appropriations beyond anticipated income and it can’t dictate how the budget is used in day-to-day operations.
  • The State of Rhode Island usually passes its budget in June. Since Providence relies on funding from the State, this timing is important.

The City Council is ultimately asked to pass 4 ordinances related to the budget:

  • Appropriation Ordinance:  the next fiscal year’s operating budget
  • Municipal Classification Ordinance: classification of city employees, dictating salary levels
  • Compensation Ordinance: sets specific salary levels for job classifications
  • Levy Ordinance: setting taxation levels for residents and businesses

What are the major steps in the city’s budget process?

The budget goes through a series of steps in order to become law.  We’ve outlined the process in a graphic – click the image below to see it at a larger scale.

The Mayor and their team develop a budget and introduce it in a public address at least 60 days before the start of the fiscal year. Mayor Smiley will deliver a budget address on April 17, 2024.

  1. The budget is introduced to the City Council and referred to the Finance Committee for review.
  2. The Finance Committee holds a public hearing on the Mayor’s proposed budget so the public can provide testimony.
  3. Throughout May the Finance Committee has meetings with department heads to hear about their priorities and ask questions. The public can listen on Zoom or in person.
  4. Finance Committee considers budget changes and creates a revised version
  5. Department budgets are updated with revisions based on the Finance Committee’s deliberations, and there are discussions with the Mayor’s Office about proposed changes
  6. This year for the second time, the Finance Committee will hold a second hearing on the proposed budget changes. The public can offer testimony in writing or in person.
  7. The proposed changes are written in a set of revisions called a SubA and submitted to the full Council. The full City Council votes on the revised budget twice.
  8. The Mayor has 10 days to sign or veto the budget. If the Mayor vetoes, the Council can override. If the Council does not override the veto, the Mayor starts the budget process over.

After the budget is passed, there are still a few ways the budget can be changed:

  • If revenue is less than projected, the Mayor can recommend budget reductions and the City Council would vote on the proposed changes.
  • The Mayor can authorize transferring funds between departments up to a certain limit. Beyond that limit the Mayor needs Council approval.
  • If an emergency threatens health, safety, or property, the Mayor can pass an emergency ordinance and the City Council can appropriate additional funds.

Important Budget Documents

FY25 Budget Documents (not yet announced)

FY24 Budget Documents (last year, for reference)

More financial reports, budget proposals and detail on the Providence Finance Office website

Providence Capital Improvement Plan

City of Providence Checkbook Explorer

An open data portal that shows expenditures over the last several years. You can see summary charts or search for payments made by a department or vendor. View the Checkbook Explorer

2024 Providence City Council Budget Calendar

Last updated 4/11/24

See https://pvdeye.org/civic-calendar or

http://providenceri.iqm2.com/Citizens/Default.aspx for all public meetings in Providence

  • Calendar is subject to change and will be revised as new information becomes available 
  • Click the link for a meeting to see agendas and background in the days preceding the meeting.
  • Agendas include a Zoom link for remote listening or join meetings on the 3rd floor of City Hall. 
  • In the days after the meeting check the link for an audio recording and minutes.
DateTimeEventNotes
Wednesday, April 17Mayor Smiley’s Budget Address
Tuesday, April 23Finance Committee Meeting
Budget Overview, Finance Administration
Thursday, April 25Finance Committee Meeting

Public Property, Purchasing, Licensing, Vital Statistics

Tuesday, April 30Finance Committee Meeting

Planning; Arts, Culture & Tourism

Wednesday, May 1Finance Committee Meeting

Inspections & Standards;  Economic Development

Tuesday, May 7First Public Hearing
on the Mayor’s Proposed Budget
Tuesday, May 7Finance Committee Meeting (at the Rise)

Parks

Thursday, May 9Finance Committee Meeting

Public Works, Recreation

Tuesday, May 14Finance Committee Meeting

Police, Fire, Commissioner’s Office, PEMA, Telecom

Tuesday, May 21Finance Committee Meeting

HR, IT, Tax Assessor, Tax Collector

Thursday, May 23Finance Committee Meeting

Sustainability; Housing and Human Services; Diversity, Equity & Inclusion

Tuesday, May 28Finance Committee Meeting

Law, Board of Canvassers

Thursday, May 30Finance Committee Meeting

​​Providence Public Schools

Tuesday, June 4Second Public Hearing
on the Revised Budget
TBA JuneFinance Committee Meeting

Vote Budget out of Committee

TBA JuneSpecial City Council Meeting

Target date for first vote on budget

TBA JuneSpecial City Council Meeting

Target date for second passage of budget

 

Helen Anthony has represented Ward Two of Providence since 2019.  She serves on the Committee on Finance, the Rules Committee, and the Committee on Claims and Pending Suits.  On City Council, she is focused on improving Providence’s long-term financial health and environmental sustainability.  She has advocated for greater transparency in municipal decision making and called for more rigorous, open opportunities for residents to participate in the city’s planning and development.  She currently works as a land use attorney.