Rhode Island Senate Housing and Municipal Government Committee
Passes City Council’s Enabling Legislation to Enact a Homestead Exemption
Last night after more than three hours of testimony, the Rhode Island Senate Housing and Municipal Government Committee, Chaired by Senator Frank Lombardo, III, unanimously passed enabling legislation that would allow for the City Council to move forward with a homestead tax exemption.
In addition to the Senate’s Housing and Municipal Government Committee’s passage, the City Council voted 9-1 in support of the enabling legislation. Council President Sabina Matos, Councilman John Igliozzi, Councilman David Salvatore, Councilman Seth Yurdin, and Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune were at the State House for the Committee’s hearing and were absent from the Council meeting.
“Tonight was a victory for the residents of Providence,” stated City Council President Sabina Matos. “The Council received the Mayor’s proposed budget, calling for an additional $15M in spending, which included a tax proposal that my team felt was inequitable. We are willing and continue to work with the Mayor, but we needed to put into place a mechanism that gave us options, and that is what this enabling legislation does. We appreciate and thank the Committee for their support.”
The City Council leadership team last week introduced a tax proposal that would create an even playing field for all homeowners. The proposal calls for a flat tax rate of $24.56 per $1K of assessed value and would provide a homestead exemption of 40% up to $350K of assessed value, and then a 28% homestead on every $1K of assessed value after that.
The Chairman of the Council’s Committee on Finance and Councilman John J. Igliozzi, Esq. said, “As a body, we must work to protect the most vulnerable amongst us. The plan that we have put forward will provide a break to roughly 86% of owner-occupied properties in Providence. These homeowners are working two jobs to make ends meet; they are the retirees on a fixed income who are making decisions about paying their electric bill or filling a prescription; and they are the single parents trying to give their families a better life. A tax increase of even $200 can be devastating to those on tight budgets. While 7% of owner-occupied properties will see a slight increase in their tax rate over the Mayor’s plan, but will still pay less in property taxes than they did last year, and finally only 7% will likely see a raise in their tax bill over last year.”
The enabling legislation was sponsored in the Rhode Island Senate by Senators Frank Ciccone, Ana Quezada and Samuel Bell all of Providence. The legislation allows for the City Council to grant a homestead exemption to the owner-occupied residencies that may be a flat amount, a uniform rate, or a variable rate based on the value of a property. The Committee is chaired by Senator Frank Lombardo III, the Vice-Chairwoman is Senator Elizabeth A. Crowley, and the Committee’s Secretary is Senator Donna M. Nesselbush, and is comprised of the following members Senators Samuel W. Bell, Hanna M. Gallo, Roger A. Picard, and Gordon E. Rogers.
“Since a freshman Councilor I have worked alongside Chairman Igliozzi on the Council’s Committee on Finance, and we have always put the needs of Providence’s residents first,” stated Majority Leader and Vice-Chairwoman of the Committee on Finance Jo-Ann Ryan. “Providence is facing serious financial burdens, and we have many fiscal obligations that we must meet, but meeting them on the backs of the most disadvantaged neighborhoods is not good governance. We must address inefficiencies in our dealings as a City, and we also need to address the inequities in the Mayor’s tax proposal. I believe that our plan achieves that goal.”
The Council’s Committee on Finance will continue to meet to pass a budget that is fair and equitable for all residents of Providence. Chairman Igliozzi has asked his colleagues and members of the community to make suggestions on ways to amend the budget, and other ideas on how to bring the tax rate lower. The Council has no plans to dismantle any department but is looking at keeping some programs or departments level-funded.
Enabling legislation has also been introduced in the Rhode Island House of Representatives by Representatives Daniel McKiernan, Anastasia Williams, Joseph Almeida, Charlene Lima, and Mario Mendez. They are slated to hear this matter in the coming days.