Providence, RI – Tonight, Providence City Council Finance Committee voted to pursue action against an agreement that allowed 10 downtown buildings controlled by Arnold Buff Chace and affiliates to pay significantly lower property taxes to the city in the amount of approximately $42.5 million over 30 years.
After hearing a presentation in executive session from attorneys Max Wistow and Stephen Sheehan, the finance committee approved a resolution that would authorize legal counsel to make a claim by demand letter, motion practice, lawsuit, or any combination the attorneys deemed appropriate. Ten council members attended the presentation. To move forward with legal action, a majority of the city council must approve the measure at its next meeting on July 20.
In May, City Council President Rachel Miller announced hiring the Providence firm Wistow, Sheehan, and Loveley to review the merits of the 2021 consent judgment (Harrisburg Associates, LLC, et al. v. The City of Providence et al. PC-2020-04757). WSL was to provide legal options to the council and, if necessary, to initiate legal proceedings to defend the city and taxpayers from the impacts of the consent judgment. The proposed engagement and fee agreement can be seen here.
A December 2022 report from Providence’s Internal Auditor identified several legal concerns regarding the settlement of Harrisburg Associates, LLC, et al. v. The City of Providence et al. PC-2020-04757 without approval before the city council. The auditor recommended hiring outside counsel to review the matter. Through a resolution in March, the city council authorized the president to engage outside attorneys.