Commercial Property Tax Revenue By City and Town (And an Inquiry into Providence’s Complaints About Tax-Exempt Properties)

Nothing says it’s the new fiscal year quite like the presentation of new fiscal data, to help provide context for the major local decisions on taxing and spending being made all across Rhode Island.

This compilation actually began as an analysis of Providence city government’s claim that it is handicapped in its ability to raise sufficient revenues by the large amount of tax-exempt property within its borders — a claim that, at least according to two basic initial indicators, doesn’t seem to be particularly strong.

On an annual basis, the Municipal Affairs office within the state government’s Department of Administration compiles data on the property tax levies, broken down by residential versus commercial/industrial classifications, for each Rhode Island municipality. The latest results available from valuations done at the end of 2007 show that, despite its quantity of tax-exempt property, Providence still receives the 5th-highest amount of commercial and industrial property tax revenue per-resident of any city in Rhode Island. Here’s the entire list…











































MunicipalityCommercial/Industrial
Property Tax Levy
PopulationC/I Rev. Per
Resident
West Greenwich $4,877,639 6,382 $764.28
Warwick $64,148,344 84,936 $755.26
Newport $15,540,882 23,752 $654.30
Lincoln $14,305,179 22,026 $649.47
Providence $109,849,157 171,889 $639.07
Middletown $9,678,806 16,238 $596.06
Scituate $6,446,351 10,831 $595.18
New Shoreham $604,721 1,018 $594.03
East Providence $22,748,792 48,604 $468.04
Cranston $33,630,811 80,191 $419.38
Smithfield $8,661,278 21,213 $408.30
East Greenwich $5,296,400 13,324 $397.51
West Warwick $10,884,478 29,234 $372.32
Johnston $10,126,741 28,579 $354.34
North Smithfield $3,544,559 11,254 $314.96
North Providence $10,288,392 32,770 $313.96
Pawtucket $21,647,143 72,085 $300.30
North Kingstown $7,563,806 26,623 $284.11
Warren $2,927,764 11,050 $264.96
Westerly $6,074,013 23,335 $260.30
Woonsocket $11,098,260 43,438 $255.50
Coventry $7,909,545 34,445 $229.63
South Kingstown $6,459,733 29,197 $221.25
Portsmouth $3,378,376 17,006 $198.66
Foster $865,586 4,495 $192.57
Narragansett $3,075,835 16,458 $186.89
Exeter $964,257 6,176 $156.13
Hopkinton $1,184,823 7,978 $148.51
Richmond $1,125,047 7,634 $147.37
Tiverton $2,181,018 15,059 $144.83
Bristol $3,202,795 22,492 $142.40
Central Falls $2,441,721 18,757 $130.18
Cumberland $4,447,466 34,191 $130.08
Glocester $1,260,807 10,498 $120.10
Jamestown $546,534 5,508 $99.23
Barrington $1,498,396 16,399 $91.37
Charlestown $628,185 8,094 $77.61
Burrillville $1,262,835 16,447 $76.78
Little Compton $233,479 3,530 $66.14

And in terms of the ratio of commercial/industrial collections versus residential taxes collected, it’s not even close who the biggest beneficiary of commercial property taxes is…











































MunicipalityCommercial/Industrial
Property Tax Levy
Residential
Property Tax Levy
C/I as
% of Res.
Providence $109,849,157 $126,320,027 87.0%
Warwick $64,148,344 $105,379,974 60.9%
Lincoln $14,305,179 $26,341,821 54.3%
West Greenwich $4,877,639 $9,188,519 53.1%
East Providence $22,748,792 $44,567,063 51.0%
Woonsocket $11,098,260 $23,083,073 48.1%
Pawtucket $21,647,143 $47,200,154 45.9%
Scituate $6,446,351 $14,630,732 44.1%
Newport $15,540,882 $40,355,194 38.5%
Central Falls $2,441,721 $6,499,901 37.6%
Middletown $9,678,806 $26,495,287 36.5%
Cranston $33,630,811 $101,633,398 33.1%
West Warwick $10,884,478 $33,119,054 32.9%
Smithfield $8,661,278 $27,295,469 31.7%
North Providence $10,288,392 $34,525,710 29.8%
Johnston $10,126,741 $41,208,491 24.6%
North Smithfield $3,544,559 $16,445,109 21.6%
Warren $2,927,764 $15,154,909 19.3%
Coventry $7,909,545 $46,659,667 17.0%
East Greenwich $5,296,400 $31,382,267 16.9%
North Kingstown $7,563,806 $50,529,940 15.0%
South Kingstown $6,459,733 $52,242,106 12.4%
Westerly $6,074,013 $49,194,534 12.3%
Bristol $3,202,795 $28,288,884 11.3%
Cumberland $4,447,466 $40,650,687 10.9%
Foster $865,586 $8,073,902 10.7%
Exeter $964,257 $9,516,802 10.1%
New Shoreham $604,721 $6,231,198 9.7%
Portsmouth $3,378,376 $34,990,389 9.7%
Richmond $1,125,047 $11,781,571 9.5%
Hopkinton $1,184,823 $13,421,164 8.8%
Narragansett $3,075,835 $35,239,211 8.7%
Tiverton $2,181,018 $27,393,724 8.0%
Glocester $1,260,807 $16,559,354 7.6%
Burrillville $1,262,835 $16,914,506 7.5%
Charlestown $628,185 $18,411,735 3.4%
Barrington $1,498,396 $44,075,086 3.4%
Jamestown $546,534 $16,406,255 3.3%
Little Compton $233,479 $8,816,111 2.6%

(The population data is from Census Bureau estimates, via the state’s department of labor and training).

Taken together, these two rankings make it very difficult to sustain a claim that Providence is somehow being shorted in property taxes — especially when Providence is doing so much better in commercial and industrial property tax revenue than Rhode Island’s other densely populated urban areas like Pawtucket and Woonsocket — if Providence’s problems are rooted in too much property not on the tax rolls, then shouldn’t it actually be doing noticably worse in commercial tax collections than Rhode Island’s other cities?

Now, the point here is not to pick on the people Providence. It’s to pick on their city government. At some point when a city government’s major explanations for its financial problems are that 1) people inside the city aren’t giving the government enough money and 2) people outside of the city aren’t giving the government enough money, it’s time to consider that the problem might not be with the people, but with the government. Clutching and grabbing for every dollar that can be taken from everyone associated with a city is not a winning formula for cultivating the balance of activities needed to make an urban area vibrant.

One final point about the overall list: I suspect that the success of Middletown and Warwick at rasing commercial and industrial revenue is going to give the smart-growth folks of Rhode Island fits, as when it’s combined with a bit of knowledge of local commercial geography, it sure looks like a strip-mall dominated retail sector is a great way to raise property tax revenue in a municipality.

The floor is now open, for who have insight into the meaning of these figures in different communities…

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Monique
Editor
11 years ago

” Providence still receives the 5th-highest amount of commercial and industrial property tax revenue per-resident of any city in Rhode Island.”
That’s definitely a counter-intuitive statement until you do the numbers, as Andrew did. Very interesting.
So, we have demonstrated that once again in Rhode Island, there is a spending rather than a tax/revenue problem.
This also speaks against rezoning Allens Avenue, as Attorney Patrick Conley has wanted to do. Matt Jerzyk called that one right.

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