Mayor Smiley takes action against ‘irresponsibly low’ property taxes
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — Providence Mayor Brett Smiley delivered his first budget proposal since taking office, including tax increases for homeowners.
The mayor defended the increases because he said the city currently has an “irresponsibly low” tax rate.
The budget also focused on public safety, schools and quality-of-life concerns. Included in it was a property tax increase of 90 cents per thousand dollars of assessed value of the home.
An increase along with a decrease in the homestead tax exemption by 5%.
“You know — often we say its a minimal increase, but sometimes its just not minimal,” said Wendy Baker, a homeowner in Providence.
“Even if it’s a slight increase, it’s something that at this point, I think we should worry about our community, our residents are not ready to pay any more taxes,” Councilman Pedro Espinal said.
Smiley defended the tax increase, preparing for the day that the federal ARPA money runs out.
“No one’s excited about it — I’m not enthusiastic about proposing to raise residential taxes, but it’s the responsible thing to do to prepare for the expiration of the federal funding,” Smiley said.
Homeowners told ABC 6 they don’t necessarily like it, but they understand.
“It’s a difficult situation and I get it, I understand that taxes are totally necessary, my wife and I are totally willing to pay whatever we need to pay in taxes, as long as we understand where they’re going,” Baker said.
ABC 6 asked Smiley where exactly the property tax money would be going.
“Everything from additional graffiti removal to fixing more sidewalks to hiring more police officers,” Smiley said.
He continued by saying everything Providence officer from entertainment to tourism, the city has been operating at an “irresponsibly low tax rate.”
“Right now, the city’s residential property tax rate is in line with communities like Block Island and Little Compton. You know — these are communities that do not provide the services that Providence has to provide,” Smiley concluded.
The mayor also stated that the property tax increase is happening now so there wont be higher increases down the road.
Also of mention was $200 million set aside for public safety which includes hiring 70 additional police officers by next spring.
The city council will go through the proposal. Next year’s budget starts in July.