Purse Strings Tightening On Downtown Tax Break Extensions
Well hallelujah. The Providence City Council’s Finance Committee has voted unanimously to oppose a tax break extension to the owners of the property at 100 Fountain Street. And according to the ProJo it was “unanimously — and vehemently.” Emphasis mine.
These tax breaks were initially intended to encourage the rehabilitation of historic buildings in the downtown arts district, the idea being that the first years of such projects were costly, with no income being generated by the property itself.
But the system is being exploited to the detriment of all other Providence taxpayers. Take the Fountain Street property. It received an initial 10-year tax treaty in 2002 which was then extended by five more years through fiscal 2016-2017. It now has commercial occupants on the ground floor with condo units, some valued as high as $467,000, on the floors above. And the owners are now asking for another five years? Not if the Finance Committee has anything to do with it. According the John Hill at the ProJo;
“Where is the end of the line here?” asked Ward 12 Councilman Terrence Hassett, who represents much of downtown. . . .
Ward 7 Councilman John J. Igliozzi, the committee chairman, said the initial tax treaty for the building was a good idea, it brought in new businesses and highly valued residences. It was a contract between the developers and the city.
“The people of Providence have fulfilled their part of the bargain,” he said.
Ward 5 Councilwoman Jo-Ann Ryan said tax stabilization agreements are for new projects that need early help, not established ones that can thrive on their own.
The committee’s recommendation on the proposal will be forwarded to the full council for a vote. Make sure your councilperson knows how you feel about ending this corporate welfare.