PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) - Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and the city's two biggest nonprofits have come to separate agreements on the long-standing and sometimes contentious issue of their payments to the city, WPRI 12 has learned.
Taveras will hold a press conference Tuesday at 10:15 a.m. along with Brown University President Ruth Simmons and Gov. Lincoln Chafee. Details of the deal have not been released but it is expected the financial pact will cover more than than a decade.
On Monday night, Taveras also announced a deal with Lifespan, the nonprofit parent of Rhode Island Hospital, that will net the city an annual payment of $800,000 for three years. The mayor called the agreement "groundbreaking."
Providence's private colleges first agreed to contribute to the city budget back in 2003, but the hospitals have never done so up to now. "I hope it inspires the other hospitals who rely on a strong Providence to be a part of the solution that positions our capital city for the future," Taveras said in a statement.
"Lifespan has long been a responsible community partner and a leader in the effort to make Providence a healthier city – especially for our most vulnerable neighbors," he said. The hospital group said it limited the deal to three years because of the health care sector's uncertain financial outlook.
Taveras's budget for this fiscal year, which ends June 30, included $7.1 million in additional voluntary payments he proposed to get from the city's largest nonprofits. Up to now, the only deal the city had reached was with Johnson & Wales University, which agreed to provide at least $600,000 more a year.
The latest agreements with Brown and Lifespan leave the Taveras administration still angling to reach a deal with four of the city's largest tax-exempts institutions: Care New England (Women & Infants and Butler hospitals), CharterCARE (Roger Williams Medical Center and St. Joseph Health Services), Providence College and the Rhode Island School of Design. It's unclear where those talks stand.
Without voluntary deals, the mayor and other city officials had threatened to try and get state lawmakers to enact a bill requiring the institutions to pay 25% of what they'd owe if their properties were taxable.
The deals with the nonprofits are coming amid a whirlwind 24 hours that have seen Taveras make sudden headway on his two biggest policy priorities.
Earlier Monday evening, he signed into law an ordinance scaling back Providence's pension benefits. The changes are forecast to save the city roughly $16 million a year and will likely be challenged in court by retirees.
The announcement of the deal with Brown will take place Tuesday in the State Room of the State House, where the governor has attempted to help broker peace between the two sides. Earlier this month, Simmons publicly chastised the city for making mistakes leading up to its financial crisis.
"I don't think it's reasonable for the city, having made mistakes and having become insolvent because of those mistakes, to turn to institutions that are successful and to demand that they pay for those mistakes," Simmons told the Undergraduate Council of Students, according to The Brown Daily Herald.
Taveras had wanted to increase the size of Brown's contribution to the city budget by $4 million, while Simmons wanted to provide half that amount. The final compromise numbers are expected to be released Tuesday.
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