It has been a busy 24 hours for Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, from signing his pension protection plan into law last night, to announcing a multi-million dollar agreement with Brown University this morning.
Brown already pays Providence $4 million a year as part of another agreement made with the city almost 10 years ago. Tuesday's announcement means the school's contribution will double for the next few years, in hopes that this time, the dollar amount is enough to keep the city afloat.
"The city of Providence needs Brown university and Brown university needs the city of Providence," Taveras said at a press conference Tuesday morning. "We need each other to be successful."
Brown has agreed to shell out $31.5 million more to the capitol city over the next 11 years. A $4 million chunk of that will go directly toward closing the city's current $22 million budget gap.
"Brown is deeply concerned about Providence's financial situation," Brown President Ruth Simmons said. "We are certainly committed to supporting efforts that enhance the city."
Roughly three weeks prior to the promising announcement, Simmons publicly criticized city leaders for making mistakes that led to this financial mess.
"I think she's absolutely correct that we have made mistakes," Taveras said. "But we are working to address them."
Pending city council approval, Providence will hand over four city blocks of land to Brown, as well as 250 parking permits for school employees. President Simmons says there will be no layoffs as a result of the deal, but some tough decisions will have to be made.
"It might mean no more shrimp at our receptions," Simmons joked.
The financial fix is no laughing matter for the city's retirees, whose cost of living adjustments were frozen by the Mayor Monday night. Union members say the plan on battling that out in court. The mayor says there is nothing unfair about shared sacrifice.
"Unless we have systemic and substantial reform of our pensions, we are going to have a huge problem," Taveras said.