|Mayor Angel Taveras painted a bleak picture Thursday of the city's finances, saying Providence faces devastation and could go bankrupt if retiree benefits aren't cut and tax-exempt institutions like Brown University don't pay more in lieu of taxes.
Taveras said he cut a projected $110 million deficit for the current fiscal year to less than $30 million but that the city is on track to run out of money by June. He said taxpayers and city workers have already sacrificed ? taxes and fees have gone up, several schools were closed and there are 200 fewer people on the city's payroll compared to a year ago ? and he called on retirees and nonprofit hospitals and universities to do the same.
Everyone must sacrifice or everyone will suffer the consequences, he said at a news conference at City Hall. We need everyone to be part of the solution.
He said the city can't afford retirees' guaranteed annual cost-of-living increases ? about 600 retirees get increases of 5 and 6 percent ? and that benefits will be cut one way or another, either voluntarily or possibly through court action. He suggested the city could go the way of Central Falls, which was taken over by a state-appointed receiver in 2010 and where pensioners' benefits were unilaterally slashed. The receiver declared bankruptcy on behalf of the city in August.