SOUTH KINGSTOWN–The Economic Development Committee met last Thursday, March 3 to discuss the new property tax treaty drafted by the town.
The ‘Tax Exemption and Stabilization Program’ was received by the council as a troubling example of miscommunication.
“Given the amount of time and effort of drafting this tax treaty with specific guidelines,” said Deedra A. Durocher, member of the EDC, “I am amazed and disheartened we were not given a say on it.”
“This is an ongoing problem, we put in feedback, and nothing comes of it,” added Joseph M. Viele, Vice-Chairman of the committee.
The ‘Tax Exemption and Stabilization Program’ was initially drafted in January 2007 by the town solicitor as an amendment to Chapter 17 of the town code. The three page amendment, created under the direction of the EDC, allows the town council to exempt from taxation, in whole or in part, businesses that wish to expand or locate in South Kingstown. The exemption is available to businesses for a period no longer than 10 years.
The impetus behind the amendment was to attract small and large businesses to South Kingstown in an effort to generate positive revenues for the town and local business owners. As businesses more recently have wished to apply for this exemption, however, no further guidelines were set by the town regarding its implementation. These guidelines were drafted by the town council this past February without consulting the EDC.
The guidelines, drafted by the town’s planning staff, detail the minimum ‘thresholds of eligibility’ for businesses applying for the tax exemption. The EDC, however, contends that the guidelines discourage small business success in favor of larger companies.
“If you’re someone on Main Street and you use your last $50,000 to beautify your property, would you do it? No, not under these guidelines,” said Larry Fish, Chairperson of the EDC.
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