Newport was founded in 1639, incorporated as a City in 1784, and rechartered in 1853. The City operates under a Home Rule Charter, adopted in 1953, providing for a council/city manager form of government. There is a seven-member City Council headed by its Chairperson, who is elected by the Council and also holds the title of Mayor. All legislative powers of the City are vested in the City Council by the Charter, including the ordering of any tax, making appropriations, and transacting any other business pertaining to the financial affairs of the City.
Four members of the City Council are elected at large and the remaining three members are elected from the three wards, all for a two-year term. The new council was elected in November, 2018. The Charter grants to the City Council all powers to enact, amend, or repeal ordinances relating to the City's property, affairs and government, including the power to create offices, departments or agencies of the City, to preserve the public peace, health and safety, to establish personnel policies, to authorize the issuance of bonds, and to provide for an annual audit.
The City Manager is appointed by a majority vote of the City Council. The City Manager is the chief administrative officer. The Charter grants to the City Manager the authority to appoint or remove all officers or employees of the City, to prepare and submit to the City Council the annual budget and annual report of the City, to recommend pay schedules for City employees, and to recommend to the Council the adoption of such measures as he/she may deem necessary for the health, safety or welfare of the City.
From its early years when commerce involved the whale-oil trade, to today's highly sophisticated research in electronic submarine warfare, the seaport has continued to play a vital role in Newport's economy. The U. S. Navy, beginning with the founding of the Naval War College in 1884, influenced the development of the City and continues to do so as one of the major contributors to the local economy.
Newport's location, natural and cultural resources, and sense of history are responsible for the growth of tourism into a primary source of revenue. The third largest economic factor in Newport, the service sector, has benefited by both the defense and tourism industries.
As the State's principal tourist center and resort community, Newport is visited annually by millions of tourists who attend special events, sail, and view the City's mansions and other attractions. The City's popularity has stimulated significant private investment in retail shopping facilities, hotels, timeshare units, restaurants, clubs, and other tourist-oriented enterprises.
The Newport County Convention and Visitors Bureau (NCCVB), which operates the H.J. Donnelly III Visitors Center, reports over 500,000 visitors seeking information in the Center annually. The Visitor Center, located in the center of Historic Newport, is open seven days a week, providing residents and visitors with information on area attractions, accommodations, events, and restaurants.
The City of Newport has some of the best private facilities for boating enthusiasts in the state. There are two public beaches operated May through September, and the area is famous for past America's Cup Races and the Olympic Sailing Trials. There are numerous public recreational facilities, including 17 tennis courts, 16 multi-purpose play fields, 16 playgrounds, and one gymnasium, which are available for residents' use. The City also has a Senior Citizens' Center.
The Newport Public Library was founded in 1869 and currently contains 187,131 volumes, including 21,447 ebooks purchased consortially through Ocean State Libraries. A recent expansion has added 23,000 square feet to the facility and increase the capacity to 175,000 volumes. Newport has the distinction of having not only one of the first public libraries in the country, but also the first private library, still in operation -- the Redwood Library.
There are estimated 21,200 individuals in defense-related jobs on Aquidneck Island. The major private employers are located in Middletown and Portsmouth; however, many of their employees make their homes in Newport and thereby contribute to the local economy. These workers represent a very highly skilled component of the local labor force.
The Navy is the island's largest single employer, employing approximately 9,000 military and civilian personnel. The Navy's presence in Newport is dominated by its work in education, training and research programs. Among the largest institutions involved with research programs is the Naval Underwater Warfare Center (NUWC), which has been designated by the Defense Department as the site for a "superlab" for doing undersea warfare research. The U. S. Navy Base or its related facilities have not been identified for any base closure or reduction, and, in fact, is currently expanding their facilities.
Within the City of Newport, 89.64% of all 2013 private employment was in the service sector. Although most of the service jobs are to be found in hotel/motel, social services, and health fields, other important services industries in Newport are also educational services and business services. Newport's inventory of office space attracts professional service firms, such as medical offices and legal services. Business services include, among others, building maintenance, personnel supply, and computer and data processing services. Computer and data processing, and engineering and management services are major sources of jobs at the regional level.
The retail industry represents the third largest source of private employment within Newport, with an annual average of 1,341 jobs in 2013. These include jobs in specialty retail, which includes galleries, gift shops, antique shops, and apparel and accessories. Retail and restaurant employment can swell by as many as 1,500 jobs during the peak summer season.
Recreational, or specialty retail, also plays an important role in Newport's visitor industry and provides shopping opportunities for visitors as well as serving Newport residents. The primary shopping areas in Newport are located on Thames Street, America's Cup Avenue, and Bellevue Avenue. The many antique shops and art galleries in Newport add to the City's historic and cultural character.
The City provides a comprehensive array of health and safety facilities whose mission is the care and protection of its citizens and visitors. These include three fire stations, one police station, two hospitals (one of which is the non-functioning US Naval Hospital) and one medical care facility.
The importance of investing in the future of our children, community, state and country is mirrored in City Council’s Mission Statement. The City of Newport houses ten private preschools, two private elementary/middle schools, the newly constructed elementary Claiborne Pell School, Thompson Middle School, Newport Area Career and Technical Center, and Rogers High School. Secondary schools include the Community College of Rhode Island and Salve Regina University.
43 Broadway, Newport, RI 02840
Phone: (401) 845-5300 (M-F 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.)
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