EAST PROVIDENCE — In what he termed a “mission statement” on the upcoming formulation of the 2017-18 Fiscal Year budget, Ward 3 City Councilman Joe Botelho at the body’s June 6 meeting challenged the administration to find $5 million in each of the next two years to fix East Providence’s tired roadways.
Mr. Botelho framed his statement in three phases, saying it was time the current Council accept the responsiblity of repairing the city’s streets. He said along with water and sewer, roads were one of the things residents use and need on a daily basis that show their tax dollars in action.
“We need a budget over the next two years that fixes all of our bad roads,” Mr. Botelho said. “This is something this Council can take care of.”
Mr. Botelho added it was time for the Council to reassert its “budgetary authority” as laid out in the City Charter rather than rubber-stamping the submission of the administration, and “direct resources in a tangible way.”
The first phase of Mr. Botelho’s mission statement was his urging City Manager Tim Chapman to find the $5 million in the budget to fix roads “from the tip of Rumford to the end of Riverside.” Mr. Botelho said he derived the number after reviewing the current fiscal year outline, the 2015 outside audit of the city’s finances and a municipal survey of residents.
Second, he asked City Solicitor Greg Dias to draft an ordinance for Council approval that would require any utility company doing work on city roads to repair the entirety of it, not just patch and fill.
Third, he questioned how the city currently accesses and uses monies derived from the state car tax funds, and if that could be better utilized.
Mr. Botelho claimed there was upwards of $32 million in East Providence’s budget set aside for “odds and ends.” He specifically pointed to a $5 million line item for outside services and one for $7 million for miscellaneous expenses as two potential places to find the necessary funds.
“I’m saying this now so the city manager won’t be surprised at the last minute,” Mr. Botelho said to Mr. Chapman, referring to potential FY17-18 budget drafts. “There better be a plan for that. I won’t approve any budget that doesn’t include this.”
Mr. Chapman, while acknowledging the moribund conditions of East Providence’s streets, countered the monies Mr. Botelho cited were accounted for and that he could show how they were being used. He said it was more likely he and department heads could find the money Mr. Botelho requested, but that it would be up to the Council to cut the necessary dollars from other areas.
(Updated, corrected, 10 a.m., June 16)