Guest MINDSETTER™ Santos: The Teppco “Tax-Jack” and 10 Waterfront Acres
Monday, April 04, 2016
Rhode Island attorney Michael Marino:
"After about 12 informal requests for information from the city's assessor's office for information on this issue, I was forced to make a formal public records request with the city," said Michael Marino, Teppco’s attorney last month.
"Until [this] morning, the tax assessor's office has outright ignored every request for information that we have made." Marino was hired by Teppco’s parent company Enterprise Products based in Houston Texas to represent Teppco’s interests in resolving the $1 Million tax increase and was prepared to take this issue to court. Short of any communication with the city, Marino could only speculate that city misclassified the storage tank and in the process taxed the same tank twice. GolocalProv reports, “City officials have neglected to comment on this issue as well, citing the fact that the company was going through the appeals process.” Until recently all attention has been squarely focused on Teppco’s efforts to resolve this $1 Million “Tax-Jack” with a reportedly unresponsive city bureaucracy, however a broader view of timing and circumstance may show an alternate theory unrelated to a $1 Million tax dispute.
It’s no secret the capitol city of Providence is desperate for new revenue, so much so they’re recruiting an army of 700 additional parking meters to raise cash, an effort that will likely drive existing business beyond the Providence city limits. In 2015 Teppco’s tax liability rocketed from$252,730.60 to a massive $1,239,679.04, no other business in the Washington Park triangle reported an arm twisting 400% tax increase, if none were issued, why would Teppco be the only recipient of the city’s hunger for revenue? Teppco received the bad news in July of 2015 while the PawSox Relocation kerfuffle was still in play. The PawSox owners dream site for the new stadium was a 5 acre waterfront tract on the I-195 reclamation site however Federal provisions for land use, infrastructure cost, and an angry electorate made this site unfeasible. The wrangling for an alternate site continued on Smith Hill behind closed doors away from public protests over a large taxpayer burden to subsidize a privately owned business. With limited waterfront real estate prospects wide public discussion turned to waterfront sites that would not only support construction of a new stadium but expansion of an entertainment and tourist venue. Those discussions focused on the waterfront edge of the Washington Park Triangle, highly industrial, densely populated with massive fuel and storage tanks, transfer stations, and ProvPort. The now vacant Teppco Propane Facility on 25 Fields Point Drive is a 10 acre waterfront tract adjacent to ProvPort. 10 acres is twice the footprint needed to satisfy the construction needs of a new stadium plus parking, or perhaps the startup of an alternate use venue. The Washington Park Triangle is no stranger to speculation on best practices and alternate use of existing properties.
Without argument conclusions in this post are circumstantial, a three dimensional effort to connect the dots regardless, several important loose threads remain in play. Teppco’s closing was the direct result of a $1 Million tax increase, 400% over the previous year and by their reckoning unable to resolve with an unresponsive city bureaucracy. The lack of any other business in the Washington Park Triangle publicly contesting a 400% tax increase is cause to question whether Teppco was the only recipient of such a massive tax increase, and if so why. The City of Providence has a virtual erected “Cone of Silence” over all things Teppco. GoLocalProv’s recent inquiries have resulted in the all too familiar “Smith Hill Shuffle”. For the moment the trail runs cold at the steps of city hall, however Teppco’s parent company Enterprise Products owns the now vacant 10 acre waterfront tract which will not remain vacant forever. Whoever takes ownership of the property, and their plans to develop will be of great interest and may well warm up the trail that now ends at the steps of Providence City Hall.
Related Slideshow: RI Business Rankings in US
See how Rhode Island stacked up.
Rhode Island has 2015's eighth highest insurance premium penalties for high risk drivers, according to a WalletHub report.
Rhode Island ranks fifth overall in the category of speeding over 20 mph annual premium increase at $482. While ranking third overall in the category of 2 accidents annual premium increase at $2,721.
Rhode Island ranks ninth overall under the reckless driving annual premium increase at $749.
Rhode Island has been ranked as the 8th most eco-friendly state in the country, according to a recent study by WalletHub.
Rhode Island ranks third in environmental quality and 16th in Eco-Friendly Behaviors Ran landing them in 8th overall.
RI is behind Washington and New Hampshire who are in the six and seven spots respectively, and in front of Connecticut and Hawaii who come in at the nine and ten spot.
Rhode Island is 2015's 4th Worst State to be a taxpayer, according to a recent WalletHub report.
Rhode Island ranks 48th of 51 with an average state and local tax price of $7,159 which is good for a 27% difference from the national average.
The states that are directly behind Rhode Island are Wisconsin at $7,159, Nebraska at $7,298 and Illinois at $7,719 for a 37% difference from the national average.
Rhode Island has the highest vehicle property taxes in the country, paying an average of $1,133 according to a report from WalletHub.
Virginia and Kansas are the two states just ahead of Rhode Island in the 49 and 50 spots, paying $962 and $905 respectively.
RI also ranks 42nd in average real estate tax, paying an average of $2,779, according to the WalletHub report.
WalletHub has ranked Rhode Island as the 7th worst state to be rich in in a recent in depth analysis of 2015's Best States to be Rich or Poor From a Tax Perspective.
On a scale with 1 being the best, and 25 being average, Rhode Island ranks 37th in low income earners, 42 in middle income earners and 45th in high income earners.
To see the full report, click here.
Providence-metro ranks at the bottom for job creation in 2014
Rhode Island has been ranked amongst the worst in job creation, according to a recent survey done by Gallup.
Gallup gives the Prov-metro area an index score of 23, the lowest score is the New York- New Jersey area with 20.
Salt Lake City, Utah and Austin-round Rock, Texas rank the highest with a score of 37.
The 2014 state rankings by Forbes has just been released and Rhode Island moved up two spots from #48 in 2013 to #46 in 2014.
What does Forbes say about RI's business environment"
After Michigan and Illinois, Rhode Island has experienced the third worst net migration out of its state in the country over the past five years. With a recent unemployment rate of 7.6%—lower than only Georgia and Mississippi—residents are leaving the state in search of jobs. Rhode Island has been stuck in the bottom five overall for six straight years. One plus: labor costs are 5% below the national average, which stands out in the expensive Northeast.
Findings from The State Business Tax Climate Index were released this morning by Tax Foundation which found Rhode Island to have the 45th best tax climate for businesses for 2015. The state's rank has not changed since last year after The Index analyzed 100 different tax variables in multiple categories.
Providence is the second worst city in America for small business, according to a new survey conducted by Thumbtack.com and the Kauffman Foundation.
More than 12,000 small businesses in 82 cities across the country participate in the survey. Providence received an overall "F" grade for small business friendliness.
Small Business Friendliness Grade: F
The Economist grades states on an A+ to F grading scale for its small business climate. Rhode Island is one of just 6 states to earn an "F" grade.
Overbearing bureaucracy and excessive licensing is stifling small business in America.
Forbes ranks each state in business costs, economic climate, and growth prospects. RI is third worst in 2013.
The most damning in the commentary:
After Michigan, Rhode Island has experienced the second worst net migration in the country over the past five years.
ChiefExecutive.net ranks each state in taxations and regulations, workforce quality, and living environment.
The most damning in the commentary:
Sky-high unemployment rate bespeaks continuing terrible business climate.
#46 Tax Foundation
Tax Foundation ranks each state in corporate tax rank, sales tax rank, and unemployment insurance tax rank.
Rhode Island and the other states in the bottom ten suffer from the same afflictions: complex, non-neutral taxes with comparatively high rates.
ALEC ranks each state in economic performance and outlook.
Although Rhode Island ranked low in economic performance, a forward-looking forecast is based on the state’s standing in 15 important state policy variables. Some of these variables include top marginal personal income tax rate and sales tax burden.
#47 Free Enterprise
Free Enterprise ranks each state in performance, exports, innovation + entrepreneurship, business climate, talent pipeline, infrastructure.
Rhode Island has continued to feel the direct impact and ripples from the recent recession—it ranks 47th overall in economic performance. However, positive rankings of 15th in talent pipeline and 16th in innovation and entrepreneurship suggest the existence of a foundation on which to build the future.
The Pew Charitable Trusts
#40 The Pew Charitable Trusts
The Pew Charitable Trusts ranks each state in job growth and job creation.
Rhode Island added 6,223 jobs in 2014.
10th Worst in Gallup's Annual Ranking of State Job Markets 2014
Rhode Island has been ranked 10th worst for job creation in Gallup's annual ranking of state job markets in 2014 with a job creation index number of 21
Rhode Island is one of two (Connecticut) states to rank in the bottom ten each year since 2008.
The 2014 State level findings have were drawn from 201,254 interviews with employed adults across the nation.
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