Crisis Reveals Long-Term Principles (And Short-Term Interests)

Funny how, in a crisis, short-term needs bring forward principles that ought to have longer duration, but always with the suspicious taint of self-interest. Writes Providence real-estate mogul Joseph Paolino:

I call on Governor Carcieri and Mayor Cicilline to convene a summit of nonprofit leaders and to offer state and city support for accelerated construction timetables. This targeted approach could begin to yield results in a matter of months.
Government can help in many ways — for example, by reviewing institutional expansion plans and issuing building permits on an expedited basis, by removing bureaucratic obstacles, and by allowing the tax-exempt institutions to expand in commercial zones.

The underlying truth is that Rhode Island’s economy is in a perpetual crisis, staggering from year to year on this windfall patch or that. Government has to get out of the way in every instance; it doesn’t require extensive analysis to see the benefits across the board.
But it doesn’t require paranoia to suspect that Mr. Paolino might have some specific interest in his strangely targeted proposal. If the equations make sense, then private industry will move to expand, and immigrate, as well, and in the long term, that’s what Rhode Island needs above all. Handing over more land to tax exemption, in other words, for “payment in lieu of property taxes” will have deleterious effects long after the construction and real-estate companies have cashed their checks.

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13 years ago

“by allowing the tax-exempt institutions to expand in commercial zones.”
What a bad idea. While I am not a big admirer of the budgeting practices of the mayor and the city council of Providence, there is no denying that half of the real estate in our capital city is exempt from property taxes. Half. And the payments in lieu tendered by these institutions do not come close to making this up.
Not only does this become a significant shortfall when trying to put together a budget but it places a considerable burden on all other taxpayers, both local and statewide. Yet the former mayor actually proposes to EXPAND this handicap?

Tom W
Tom W
13 years ago

To paraphrase Yoda: a rat I smell.

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