NEW: Speaker Fox Says Legislature Could Force Tax-Exempts to Pay Up

Thursday, February 02, 2012


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House Speaker Gordon Fox said for the first time Thursday that the General Assembly may consider legislation that would force tax-exempt institutions to pay some form of taxes to the city of Providence.

“It could take that form,” Speaker Fox said. “Because if you remember statutorily, the exemption is in the form of a statute. We want to talk about all the options and the ramification. Because remember, no one is not saying that the nonprofit institutions of this city don’t contribute to the dynamic nature of the city.”

Fox’s comments came during a press briefing in Providence City Hall regarding the city’s financial problems. Mayor Angel Taveras acknowledged that the city could face bankruptcy if it can’t cut benefits to retirees and receive the $7.1 million in payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT) from tax-exempt institutions.

Fox said the General Assembly has made efforts to help the city, both through passing a law that switches retirees over the Medicare and through $4 million in additional PILOT payments.

“We recognize Providence is unique, it is the capital city of this state, it is economic center of the state. Providence cannot fail,” Fox said.

He continued: “We will do everything we can, I will use my office to make the case the men and women of the General Assembly, I know the Governor is committed, I know in statements that the Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed is committed to doing this, to make sure that this city is fiscally healthy because this state depends on the city being fiscally healthy.”

In a statement to GoLocalProv, Brown University spokeswoman Marisa Quinn said taxing colleges and universities and the students they serve is counterproductive to our shared goals of building a sustainable economy.

“Brown, together with the other private colleges and universities in Providence supports Providence, including through direct payments,” Quinn said. “Brown appreciates the serious challenges facing the city, and we recently offered to increase the $4 million in voluntary and property tax payments we make annually to the city by contributing an additional $10 million over five years in support of the school. We regret that the Mayor rejected this offer.”


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