Providence Residents Planning Car Tax Rally
Friday, August 26, 2011
The fury over changes to the car tax won’t let up.
After hundreds of angry Warwick residents turned out at City Hall to voice their displeasure with the city’s decision to lower its car tax exemption from $6,000 to $500 last week, a similar rally is being organized for the city of Providence in September.
The capital city originally did not include changes to the car tax in Mayor Taveras’ proposed 2012 budget, instead choosing to raise property taxes by roughly 13 percent. Taveras said he was concerned lowering the car tax exemption would not generate the necessary amount of revenue the city needed, but he later voiced support for the City Council’s proposed budget, which changed the car tax but lowered the property tax hike.
In the end, the city chose to broaden the tax base by lowering the car taxes but also reducing the exemption to $1,000.
Rally On Sept. 15
But Anthony Sionni, an outspoken critic of Taveras, said he is organizing the rally because he disapproves with the salaries some city employees make even as the city suffers through a “category five” fiscal hurricane.
“I am doing the rally protest because I am fed up with city tax increases," Sionni said. "Also, it burns me up that raises have been given out in city hall to a select few, while we are getting stuck with higher tax bills."
As of this posting, Sionni’s Facebook group, called “Providence Residents against the car tax increase” had just 18 members. But he said he hopes to engage elected officials and the public before the rally, which will take place on September 15 at City Hall.
“I have heard from a lot of people on Facebook complaining about the taxes, specifically the car taxes and real estate taxes,” he said. “I have 2 Facebook groups concerning the car tax issue. One deals with the car tax on a state level and the other deals with the issue on the city level. I also have 2 online petitions that go to the Governor and General Assembly concerning the state and the other to the Mayor and all 15 Council persons. People are enraged over the taxes and the valuations. I hope to get a good crowd.”
Solomon Defends Taxes
Council President Michael Solomon said the city budget had to include shared sacrifice for everyone this year.
“The Council looked at the tax levy comprehensively, refusing to ask any class of tax payer to bear the entire burden of the increase,” Solomon said. "In doing so, we moved away from the original proposal of a 13% increase in property taxes and towards a more balanced proposal which resulted in a property tax increase under 5% and the lowering of the motor vehicle tax rate by more than 20%. We also expanded the tax to an additional 55,000 vehicles which were not being taxed by lowering the exemption to $1,500.”
He said the Council did not want to balance the budget on the backs of homeowners.
“The theme of this year's budget was shared sacrifice and we felt to balance the budget wholly on the backs of homeowners was neither fair nor sound tax policy,” Solomon said. “We did not take raising taxes lightly and continue to review the City's revenue structure through our Revenue Commission which will have recommendations in the near future.”
To Move Or To Run?
But Sionni wants more answers. He blames Mayor Taveras more than the Council.
“I suspect the Mayor was favoring the rich people from the East side who put him in office,” he said.
Sionni said he grew up on Federal Hill, but that the taxes are driving him away. He said he has two options moving forward.
“I will be moving out of the city unless I run for office and try further to change things,” he said.
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