SOUTH KINGSTOWN – With local small businesses in mind, the Economic Development Committee met with the Town Council Tuesday night to discuss the town’s tax exemption and stabilization program, hoping to make it easier for small businesses to apply for tax credits.
The Town Council originally approved the tax exemption guidance statement on Feb. 28 during a town meeting. The EDC later reviewed the statement at a work session on March 20. Based on that review, the EDC prepared proposed revisions to the statement, including emphasizing small businesses, reducing the taxable investment for program eligibility and making it more flexible and simple.
Before getting to specific changes they sought, the EDC expressed their concern that they were not involved in the process in creating the new tax exemption program. The EDC was initially created to serve in an advisory capacity to the Planning Board and the Town Council to promote a stable and diversified local economy.
“We worked for two years on the initial tax stabilization rate and brought it to the town council. We did some investigation. The ordinance was there, but people didn’t know about it. We took charge and made the business community aware of it,” Larry Fish, EDC chairperson said. “There seems to be a need for some guidelines and we didn’t have any input to that.”
EDC members hoped to work with the council on the tax exemption program.
“We want to work together to produce whatever the correct guidelines are for South Kingstown,” Rob Kermes, EDC member said.
Fish said the need for changes to the ordinance was brought to the attention of the EDC after some business owners who submitted applications for a tax exemption said they did not understand the process. EDC members emphasized the need for the ordinance to be simple and clear so businesses will come to South Kingstown and remain there.
“We, as a community have to be part of the selling tool to help attract those companies,” Rob Kermes, EDC member said.
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