PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Providence City Council on Thursday unanimously approved a pension settlement with the city's police and fire unions and retirees that officials say will save the city $18 million in the current fiscal year and reduce the city's unfunded pension liability by $170 million.
The 12-0 vote (three council members were absent) represented one of the final steps for the city to complete its agreement with the unions and the retirees. The city and the retirees will appear in front of R.I. Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter next week for final approval of the deal.
The pension agreement was struck last year after Mayor Angel Taveras, a Democrat, warned that the city could go bankrupt if it couldn't win significant concessions from the retirees and several public employee unions. The deal allows the city to cap all pensions, suspend cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) for ten years and eliminate 5% and 6% compounded COLAs for good while also moving retirees to Medicare.
Taveras inherited a $110 million structural deficit upon taking office in 2011, but city officials say they were able to reduce the structural deficit to $4 million by raising taxes, closing schools, renegotiating union contracts, getting more money out of the city's major hospitals and universities, and striking the deal to reform the city's underfunded pension system.
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