PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A new proposal unveiled Tuesday could more than double how much four private higher-education institutions contribute to Providence over the next two decades.

Mayor Brett Smiley announced the proposed payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement between the city and four institutions– Brown University, Johnson & Wales University, Providence College, and R.I. School of Design — at a news conference Tuesday.

The agreement has two main components: a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with all four institutions and a supplemental memorandum of agreement (MOA) with Brown University.

The city previously negotiated two agreements that have since expired: a 20-year agreement entered into by then-Mayor David Ciccilline expired in 2023, and a ten-year agreement entered into in 2012 by then-Mayor Angel Taveras expired in 2022.

Story continues below video.

Providence chief operating officer Courtney Hawkins told reporters the 2003 agreement provided the city with $2.3 million before the agreement expired this year. Under the combined prior agreements, Hawkins said the city received a total of about $94 million over 20 years.

For comparison, Hawkins said the new proposals would result in the city receiving more than $223 million over the next 20 years, more than doubling how much it received previously.

Hawkins said voluntary payments included in the MOU would increase every five years, starting with a 2% increase in the first five years. After that, payments would increase by 2.5%, then 2.75%, and finally 3%.

The nonprofit organizations, while technically exempt from paying commercial taxes, have historically entered into the PILOT programs as a way of contributing to city coffers in exchange for taking up so much physical space throughout the city.

The Smiley administration said the new agreement is mutually beneficial to each of the higher-ed institutions and also serves as a national model for PILOT agreements in other communities.

“Our city needs these funds in order to keep paying bills on time, and to provide the highest quality city services we all deserve,” Smiley said. “Our institutions also need Providence to be a city where students, faculty, doctors, researchers and their employees want to be. This proposed agreement sets us all up for long-term success.”

The new agreements also ask the institutions to participate in a bimonthly “quality of life” working group with the administration and City Council.

The additional agreement with Brown asks the school to contribute voluntary payments in the amount of $46 million over ten years.

City officials said the payment could be lowered or substituted under certain conditions, including “substantially and materially” participating in generating new tax revenue, returning property to the commercial tax rolls, and providing direct investments in development projects like workforce housing, childcare, and public parks.

“The commitments reflected in these agreements will have a meaningful and positive impact in our local community, and will enable Brown and city leaders to address common challenges, foster community and economic development and improvise the quality of life of those who call Providence home,” Brown University President Christina Paxson said.

In return, however, the city would support zoning changes for Brown, including transferring five blocks of public streets to Brown where there are major facilities on both sides all owned exclusively by the university, extending a previous parking agreement for university faculty and staff, and support changes to improve access, delivery, and service to a new Integrated Life Sciences Building project.

The city would also support uniformly zoning a Brown-owned parcel and relocating a Providence police substation from Cushing Street.

The proposed PILOT agreement still has some legislative hurdles ahead. The agreement will be introduced to the City Council on Thursday and is then subject to further review by the Council Finance Committee.

Alexandra Leslie ( is a Target 12 investigative reporter covering Providence and more for 12 News. Connect with her on X, formerly known as Twitter and on Facebook.