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Southern: City pays 100 percent of Simmons' salary

John Simmons's salary as director of administration for the City of Providence is fully paid by the City -- and it has been for about two-and-a-half years, according to Karen Southern, spokeswoman for Mayor David N. Cicilline.

As I blogged earlier today, the issue of Simmons' salary was raised yesterday by Buddy Cianci on his WPRO-AM radio show. Dan Yorke, who has criticized Cicilline about this issue in the past, continues to hammer it this afternoon. The two talkers are critical of how the Rhode Island Foundation paid part of Simmons' salary for his work with the city.

Southern, however, tells N4N that the foundation's Fund for Providence hasn't contributed to Simmons's salary for about two-and-a-half years. She was unable to identify specifically when the foundation stopped contributing to Simmons' compensation.

Southern says the Fund for Providence, which is overseen by the Rhode Island Foundation, paid Simmons's salary when he initially worked for the Cicilline administration as a consultant, and then supplemented it when he became director of administration a direct employee of the city. Asked if the city now pays 100 percent of Simmons' salary for his work for the city, Southern said, "Yes, and it has been [doing so] for about two-and-a-half years." 

The spokeswoman recounted how the Fund for Providence was established as a partnership between individuals and philanthropy "to support the reform of city government." It was established, she says, "in recognition of the fact that the City has limited resources and in recognition of the fact that transforming government would require a significant amount of resources."

Southern noted that the same fund paid for a review of Providence's finances by Public Finance Management (PFM), which began in 2003. "PFM helped draft the city's five-year strategic plan, basically the road map for improving the city's [fiscal] health," she says. "The city was tackling a $60 million budget deficit."

 Southern notes how the city has since enjoyed some good news on its bond ratings.            

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