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Cicilline Squeezes Universities (posted March 17, 2003)

Providence Mayor David Cicilline says the time has come to restructure the relationship between city government and area universities. Appearing on the WJAR-TV show "10 News Conference," Cicilline announced that part of the solution to the city's fiscal woes "has to be to addres tax-exempt institutions." Rather than taxing Providence universities, which would require a change in state law, the mayor said he preferred to negotiate "cooperative agreements" with private universities such as Brown University, Providence College, and the Rhode Island School of Design.

Brown University, for example, owns real estate estimated at around $500 million, but only pays property tax on holdings that are used for commercial ventures. If the university does not reach an agreement with the city, Cicilline warned, "taxation is an alternative."

The new mayor also suggested that it was time for the city's unionized employees to do more to help Providence whittle down its estimated $43-44 million deficit. The mayor said he was examining pensions, compensation, and benefits, among other options facing the city. Cicilline said, "we have had conversations with the [union] leaders", but noted there are no union contracts that are up for renewal, which makes the task of restructuring employee contracts more difficult.
Copyright 2000Karen Martin Media Services