Dear Ward 3 Residents,
Welcome to summer!
Yesterday I know many of us were remembering and celebrating the strong fathers and father figures in our lives. We are lucky to have caring men in our community who show us integrity and compassion every day.
I was thrilled to see so many people enjoying PVD Fest last week -- it truly offers something for everyone in our community and has become a hallmark event of the summer. On Saturday, our city hosted its annual PRIDE Festival, one of many community events that highlight the beauty and diversity of our city. This year’s celebration marked the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots on June 28, 1969. PRIDE honors those who fought and continue to fight to create inclusive communities and recognizes and celebrates the LGBTQIA community.
On a personal note, I want to thank everyone for their support after the sudden death of my sister’s partner this spring. Our community is strong because we celebrate and care for one another.
Nirva R. LaFortune
Providence City Councilor, Ward 3
Calendar of all City Council meetings, minutes and background material can be found on the City of Providence Open Meeting website: http://providenceri.iqm2.com/Citizens/Default.aspx
NEWS FROM THE CITY COUNCIL
City Property Tax Proposals
I strongly encourage you to participate and learn more.
TONIGHT: Monday, June 17
Community Meeting to Discuss Tax Proposals
When: 6 PM
Where: Central Congregational Church, 14 Diman Place, Providence, RI, 02906 (side door entrance)
Summit Neighborhood Meeting
Where: Summit Commons, 99 Hillside Avenue, in the first floor dining room.
TOMORROW: Tuesday, June 18
Finance Committee Meeting
When: 5 pm
Where: Providence City Hall, 25 Dorrance, Providence, RI 02903
The chair of the City Council Finance Committee announced that he will be discussing this new plan during the Finance Committee meeting this week. Please visit the open meeting portal for the agenda and location.
At the end of April, the Mayor submitted a $773 million budget for FY 2020. The budget includes a 3% increase over the current fiscal year. It also includes new property tax rates that account for an increase in property values based on the real estate property revaluation completed this year. The rates proposed by the Mayor are as follows:
Last week, during an early morning press conference, members of the Council Leadership Team proposed a new tax model that would reinstate a homestead exemption. This model replaces the Mayor's with a rate of $24.56 minus 40% for the first $350,000 and $24.56 minus 28% for all valuation above that (40% exemption for the first $350K assessed value of a home and a 28% exemption on the remaining amount for the remaining valued at $351k and up). This graduated homestead exemption creates a tiered system where properties with higher values receive a lower exemption.
- Owner Occupied Rate: reduced by $3.45 to $15.35 per $1000
- Non-Owner Occupied Rate: reduced by $7.40 to $24.56 per $1,000
- Commercial Tax Rate: $36.70
- Tangible Tax Rate: $55.70
I was disappointed that this proposal was introduced in the closing weeks of the session and was shared directly with the media and not introduced or discussed in the city council’s Finance Committee or with the full council in advance. Public discussion and further detail and analysis are required before such a proposal is formally introduced -- proceeding without providing detailed information to local taxpayers is both imprudent and undemocratic.
Tax Rate: Mayor's Proposal v. City Council Leadership Proposal
||Owner Occupied Rate
||Non-Owner Occupied Rate
||$15.35 per thousand
||$24.56 per thousand
|City Council Leadership Proposal
||$14.74 per thousand
for the first $350,000 of valuation
$17.68 per thousand for valuations in excess of $350,000.
|$24.56 per thousand
In the proposal put forth by City Council Leadership, the first $350K in home value is treated the same for everyone (taxed at $14.74 per $1,000), regardless of the total assessed value of the property. For homes valued at above $350K, only the amount of the assessed value above $350K is taxed at a higher rate ($17.68 per $1,000). Owner-occupied homes assessed at $350k or below would see increasing savings, rising to a peak of roughly $213 for a house valued at $350,000. The savings would then decline for higher valued houses, reaching “break even” at around $442,000. For houses valued above this level, the net effect of the City Council Leadership proposal would be a higher property tax than under the Mayor’s budget. Homes valued at $442k and above would see an increase in their tax bill. The city has approximately 2931 owner-occupied residences valued above $442k. The average home value is $696k and the average increase would be approximately $592 per person. The transfer amount from houses valued at $442k and above to $441k and below would be approximately $1.7 million. Given that tax rates and home values are subject to annual review, it is difficult to predict the long-term impact of this plan, but it obviously would have a significant impact on areas of the city with higher property values.
The current administration has worked diligently to balance the city’s budget and maintain the city’s fiscal health. With the pension liability and our city’s ongoing expenditures, the city’s budget still has significant deficits and we need to consider options that can generate additional revenue to help narrow the fiscal gap. Conversations about our finances will not go away and there are no easy fixes. However, it will take a collaborative effort to address these issues and we need everyone's help. It is time to roll up our sleeves and work together on this to look at ways to generate additional revenue and increase the city’s tax base. This may include:
Without appropriate vetting, public hearings and enabling legislation at the statehouse, we risk lawsuits, confusion, and conflict about the best path forward.
- Assessing city expenditures and potential cost savings
- Revisiting contracts with our city's nonprofits to raise revenue
- Leveraging partnerships with public/private entities
- Increase the tax rate, but developing measures that protect our most vulnerable communities
- Developing an incremental tax increase policy with input from all stakeholders
If you are unable to attend any of the meetings, I urge you to contact the City Council Office to voice your concerns.
Short-Term Rental Policy
Last month, City Council passed a series of changes to the zoning ordinance that would place reasonable restrictions on short-term rentals in some residential neighborhoods. The Short-Term Rental Policy, is a result of many conversations and community meetings regarding issues that were impacting our neighborhoods due to short term rentals. I, along with former Councilman Zurier and the Deputy Director of Planning and Development put forth these changes to create a policy that protects our neighborhoods, but also allows homeowners to have options for making incremental revenue, and limits the negative impact residents’ quality of life. We gathered input from multiple perspectives and reviewed regulations in various cities to develop a policy that works for our whole community. I want to thank everyone who offered input to make these revisions possible.
Private bedroom or space short-term rental stays, where the owner resides in the property and rents out an individual room in their home for a period of time, do not need to apply for a temporary use permit.
- restricts investment short-term rental properties in the R1A, R1, R2, R3 zones,
- requires entire dwelling units to request a one-year renewable permit issued by the Department of Inspection and Standards,
- includes basic safety requirements, including visible printed materials with diagrams of all points of egress and clearly marked fire extinguishers.
In March, residents came out to raise their voice about traffic, bike lanes, trail connections, and other improvements during community meetings to gather input about making our streets safer and healthier.
As a result, the Providence Department of Planning and Development unveiled a draft master plan for the Providence Great Streets Initiative, which will guide the City’s efforts to improve our streets.
First Annual Juneteenth RI
When: Sunday, June 23rd
Time: 12-6 PM
Where: Roger Williams Park Temple of Music
Ward 3 Community Forum & Coffee Hours
I welcome all Ward 3 residents to stop in at one of my Community Coffee Hours. Please stop by with questions or just to say hello! The next one is Saturday, June 22nd, 9-10am at Three Sisters 1074 Hope St, Providence, RI 02906. See you there!
As a reminder, all city council meetings and notes can be found on the city council website on the open meetings portal: http://providenceri.iqm2.com/Citizens/Default.aspx
Have a wonderful and safe week!