In a positive move for the city, the state-appointed budget commission that oversees finances in East Providence, R.I., will conclude its work this month.
After March 28, a state-appointed finance officer will take over from the five-member board. Rhode Island's Department of Revenue has advertised for the position.
Rhode Island in December 2011 placed the 49,000-population city under the purview of the budget commission, the second of three levels of intervention for financially troubled cities under a state law passed one year earlier. State Police Major Stephen Bannon, an overseer under the initial step, served on the panel.
The commission also consisted of chairwoman Diane Brennan and Michael O'Keefe — like Bannon, appointed by the revenue department; and city representatives Peter Graczykowski, the city manager, and Jim Briden, the city council president.
The budget commission is scheduled to meet at 3 p.m. Thursday and on March 28, both meetings at City Hall.
Since its creation, the budget panel has established a reserve fund and five-year plan, paid vendors, cut costs of departments, reworked union contracts and balanced the budget. East Providence also joined a shared-services committee with Central Falls and Pawtucket, under an executive order from Gov. Lincoln Chafee.
"In every instance when state oversight is completed, the will be an administration and finance officer. My department advertises and screens candidates, and the division of muni finance submits three names to the mayor to chose from," said the state's revenue director, Rosemary Booth Gallogly.
She added that her department has also started the process for Central Falls, which exited Chapter 9 bankruptcy protection in September.
Last May, Moody's Investors Service, which has a Ba1 rating, revised its outlook to stable from negative. "The city's demonstrated progress in addressing its structural challenges will provide near-term stability to its credit quality," said the rating agency, which said the appointment of a budget panel factored into its rating.
In January, the city received approval from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to use $49.2 million that Google Inc. forfeited under a federal investigation into its distribution of ads for illegal prescription drug sales for pension obligation relief. East Providence and North Providence each got $60 million because their officers assisted in the investigation.