May 04, 2012 4:10 PM GMT
"Blue Model" collapses under its own weight?
Since then, Mr. Taveras has repeatedly said that the only way Providence can avoid bankruptcy — a fate that has already befallen one Rhode Island city, Central Falls, and threatens others — is to scale back the pension benefits granted to city retirees.
On Monday, Mr. Taveras celebrated an initial victory when the Providence City Council signed off on a plan to end, for now, annual cost-of-living increases for about 3,000 retired police officers, firefighters and other employees getting city pensions. The change would save about $16 million in the 2013 fiscal year, the mayor said; cost-of-living increases would be reinstated once the retirement system is 70 percent financed, which could take well over a decade. The change would also apply to current city workers once they retire.
In an interview at City Hall last week, Mr. Taveras, a first-term Democrat, said he “absolutely” expected a lawsuit to delay the freeze on cost-of-living increases for pensioners. But he said he saw no alternative for the city of 178,000 short of receivership, which would allow for a bankruptcy filing.
“It could drag out,” the mayor said of the expected legal battle. “But if we can’t reform our pensions, I don’t see how we can move this city forward. You could raise taxes, but I don’t think you can raise taxes enough to cover the cost of this.”