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Providence College Will Buy Streets to Increase City Government’s Revenue

Providence College is joining other local colleges in giving the City of Providence, R.I., more money, officials announced on Tuesday, but the Roman Catholic institution is not increasing its payments in lieu of taxes.

Rather than expanding its direct payments to the city, as Brown University, the Rhode Island School of Design, and the Providence campus of Johnson and Wales University have done recently at the urging of Mayor Angel Taveras, Providence College is purchasing short segments of three city streets that border its campus for about $3.8-million.

Assuming the Providence City Council approves the deal, Providence College will pay the city $1-million once the blocks are officially in its hands and about $315,000 annually over the next decade.

The college already provides annual payments in lieu of taxes to the city, a recent source of controversy among colleges in Providence and other cities. For the 2013 fiscal year, the college plans to contribute about $264,000 to Providence.

With the latest deal, Mr. Taveras has persuaded what a news release from his office calls Providence’s four “major” nonprofit private colleges to contribute more money to help close a yawning budget gap that has pushed the city to the brink of bankruptcy. The four colleges, as well as three health-care institutions, will contribute a total of about $48-million to the city over the next 11 years.

Update (12/19/2012, 3:43 p.m.): A spokeswoman for Providence College pointed out today that the increased-payment deals between the City of Providence and Brown, RISD, and Johnson and Wales also included transfers of or stipulations regarding city-controlled assets such as streets. Brown and Johnson and Wales both gained ownership of sections of streets near their campuses, and Brown and RISD both gained parking spots on nearby streets.

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