Small Victory In Warwick Car Tax Fight

A small victory Wednesday for protesters in Warwick, giving them the chance to fight rising car tax bills in the way that they choose.

We are seeing these rising car tax bills all over the state, as communities scramble to balance their budgets.     

In Warwick, outrage over the increased tax has led to protests at city council meetings. Wednesday, the council backed down from a plan to censor the meetings by getting rid of all the signs from protestors.

This victory may be the only one that ticked off residents see.

“It was supposed to read no signs on the city council chamber floor. I had no intent to go against the freedom of speech at all,” said Councilwoman Donna Travis.

She withdrew her proposal to ban signs from city council chambers, even bringing her own sign in saying “If you can't say something nice don't say nothing at all.”

 The reaction from warwick residents was not exactly what she wanted.

“They just did not want to listen and that's a big part of freedom of speech,” said Travis, “People have the right to speak, but we all have the right to listen to them speak.”

“That's exactly what people in Warwick said city leaders aren't doing. Residents won the fight to bring their signs in, but said they're losing the bigger battle, higher car taxes.

“I just don't understand why we have not gone into the budget and trim the fat in the budget. We constantly have an additional tax increase,” said Robert Cote who has organized residents opposed to car tax increases.    

It was their chance to speak Wednesday. Nine of them took the podium.

“This is again a direct attempt to shut us down,” said Cote frustrated as the council president told him to step aside after three minutes.     

He got his chance to finish his speech, but at this point it doesn't make much difference. The city council has already approved the budget, giving many higher car tax bills.

Council members said there has been talk of taking the car tax issue to the general assembly, but right now the car tax increase in Warwick won't change.