Happy Wednesday and welcome to Rhode Map, your daily guide to everything happening in the Ocean State. I’m Dan McGowan and since my mask has become the most fashionable part of my daily wardrobe, I think I’m going to keep wearing it. Follow me on Twitter @DanMcGowan or send tips to Dan.McGowan@globe.com.
ICYMI: Rhode Island was up to 147,220 confirmed coronavirus cases on Tuesday, after adding 224 new cases. The most-recent overall daily test-positive rate was 2 percent, and the first-time positive rate was 15.7 percent. The state announced one new death, bringing the total to 2,664. There were 135 people in the hospital, and 361,619 residents were fully vaccinated.
Sign up now: We’re hosting a free virtual event at 10 a.m. on May 4 looking at how small businesses can save Rhode Island’s post-pandemic economy, featuring Governor Dan McKee. You can register here.
Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza unveiled a $540 million budget proposal on Tuesday that holds the line on taxes, sets a $15 minimum wage for city workers, and pays for a 50-member police academy.
The tax-and-spending plan would cover the fiscal year that spans from July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022. The term-limited Democrat is widely expected to run for governor next year.
The budget will now head to the City Council Finance Committee for further vetting, but it is unlikely to see significant changes. Here’s a quick breakdown of the key things to know.
Holds the line on taxes
Everyone likes to complain about Providence’s taxes, but Mayor Elorza has mostly avoided significant increases during his tenure (except when property values have spiked). He is seeking to hold the line again this year, with a residential rate of $24.56 per $1,000 of assessed value (and a 40 percent homestead exemption) and a commercial rate of $36.70 per $1,000. The car tax will be $30 per $1,000 (with a $5,000 exemption) and the tangible tax rate will be $55.80 per $1,000.
Most city employees will see raises under Elorza’s proposed budget, including 4.5 percent for police, 3.25 percent for firefighters, 3 percent for members of Local 1033, and 3 percent for non-union workers, including the mayor’s staff. The teachers are currently working without a contract, and they are now negotiating with the state, not the mayor’s office.
More money for schools
You can take the schools away from Providence and give them to the state to run, but you can’t stop the state from asking Providence for money. The mayor’s budget would increase the city’s contribution to the school system by $4.8 million, to $134.9 million.
A $15 minimum wage
While the state is moving toward a $15 minimum wage for all workers, Mayor Elorza is calling for all city employees to earn at least that much in his proposed budget. That includes youth recreation workers this summer.
Another large pension payment
The city’s pension system was just 22.17 percent funded as of June 30, 2020. Mayor Elorza is seeking to dump another $93.5 million into the fund during the 2021-2022 fiscal year. That number is projected to increase by 3.5 percent a year through 2040, although it’s like the city will reamortize the fund at some point.
Mayor Elorza’s budget calls for a 50-member police academy that is expected to begin next month. That’s after hiring 48 new officers in 2019. The budget also includes $600,000 for a pilot program to divert certain mental health calls away from cops.
The return of PVDFest
Well, kind of. Mayor Elorza is setting aside $550,000 in his proposed budget for a PVDFest experience that he says will last several months, rather than the usual weekend summer party that so many of us look forward to. The festival is usually held in June, and even though the COVID-19 pandemic appears to be winding down, it might be too soon have tens of thousands of people gathering downtown.
THE GLOBE IN RHODE ISLAND
⚓ Ed Fitzpatrick reports that Governor McKee might be the biggest winner from Census results because he doesn’t have to worry about US Representative James Langevin running against him. Read more.
⚓ Great story from Alexa Gagosz: Local artists transformed dull utility boxes into works of art highlighting their Rhode Island roots. Read more.
⚓ Amanda Milkovits shows Chez Pascal some love in this fun piece about great takeout restaurants from around the region. Read more.
⚓ A Lincoln company spilled 40 gallons of hydrochloric acid spilled after a pump valve failed inside a containment area, Carlos Munoz reports. Read more.
MORE ON BOSTONGLOBE.COM
⚓ Health: Fully vaccinated people can drop their masks when they’re doing outdoor activities, including exercising, barbecuing, or dining at a restaurant, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday. Read more.
⚓ Crime: A Rhode Island businessman testified Tuesday he was so impressed when he met Jasiel F. Correia II in July 2013 during a chance encounter at a Fall River bar that he invested $50,000 in his company, SnoOwl, which was developing a smartphone app. Read more.
⚓ Business: A grand experiment is about to take place in office buildings across Greater Boston, as many businesses begin reopening their offices to employees with newfound expectations around working from home. Read more.
⚓ Sports: The owners of the Red Sox remain open to the idea of adding an NBA or NHL team, maybe both, to their stable of sports properties, Red Sox president and CEO Sam Kennedy said Tuesday. Read more.
WHAT’S ON TAP TODAY
Each day, Rhode Map offers a cheat sheet breaking down what’s happening in Rhode Island. Have an idea? E-mail us at RInews@globe.com.
⚓ BIRTHDAYS: Rhode Map readers, if you want a friend or family member to be recognized on Friday, send me an e-mail with their first and last name, and their age. If you want a shout out on the new Globe Rhode Island Facebook page, send along their Facebook handle as well.
⚓ Did you know that it’s Financial Literacy Month? The treasurer’s office is offering students a chance to win $500 in a college savings account if they participate in this scavenger hunt.
⚓ Governor McKee will visit Electric Boat at 10:30 a.m. to tour the company’s employee vaccination clinic.
⚓ The House Finance Committee is scheduled to discuss the proposed budgets for the Department of Children, Youth and Families, Department of Health, and the Office of the Child Advocate.
⚓ The Providence City Council Finance Committee has one of the longest agendas in its history tonight.
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