"With so much financial uncertainty, now is the time to begin exploring creative steps they can take to become more efficient and flexible," said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. "This task force will bring together a diverse group of community leaders who are committed to addressing and responding to the immediate challenges presented by COVID-19, while simultaneously working together to build a more resilient Rhode Island in the days to come."
The group will engage with municipal governments to understand their most pressing challenges and will work collaboratively to develop innovative strategies, tactics and policies to prepare for a post-COVID-19 future. Even prior to the COVID-19 crisis, economic resilience and improving service delivery has been a priority across state government. And as a result of the pandemic, state agencies have found new, creative ways of doing business – including creating reservation systems at the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and virtual and remote call centers across state agencies. The Task Force will examine lessons learned during the COVID-19 crisis and work with local governments to identify creative solutions and recommendations.
The group's primary focus areas will include quantifying the impact of COVID-19 on city and town finances; building economic resiliency in municipal budgets; exploring intergovernmental partnerships and shared services; improving service delivery through innovation and technology; and reviewing municipal revenues, cost drivers and state mandates.
"Cities and towns have spent millions of dollars responding to COVID-19 and now face potentially devastating budget challenges," said Central Falls Mayor James Diossa, President of the Rhode Island League of Cities and Towns. "Local leaders need to work closely with state and federal partners to avoid property tax increases and service cuts. Rhode Island's economy cannot rebound if cities and towns are struggling. Mayors and town leaders look forward to collaborating with state leaders to address the mounting issues caused by COVID-19 at the local level for the collective good of all Rhode Islanders."
The Task Force will be composed of eight members from the public and private sector:
James Diossa, Mayor, Central Falls; President, R.I. League of Cities and Towns; Chair, Municipal Resilience Task Force
Jorge Elorza, Mayor, Providence
Kate Michaud, Town Manager, Warren
Andy Nota, Town Manager, East Greenwich
Joe Codega, Chief Economic Policy Analyst, Office of Management and Budget (OMB)
Steve Coleman, Chief, Division of Municipal Finance, Department of Revenue (DOR)
Michael DiBiase, President & CEO, Rhode Island Public Expenditures Council (RIPEC)
Michael D'Amico, Finance Consultant, D'Amico Consulting