East Providence City Council backs resolutions reinstating tax exempt status for non-profits

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EAST PROVIDENCE — In a move that is sure to get the attention of the State Department of Revenue, the East Providence City Council voted to send resolutions asking the governor and the General Assembly to reinstate the tax exempt status of several non-profits groups.

The Council did so at its Tuesday, June 4, meeting and by identical 3-2 votes on each resolution. Councilors Thomas Rose, Tracy Capobianco and Helder Cunha voted in the affirmative. Councilors James Briden and Chrissy Rossi voted in the negative, the latter stating her unwillingness to support the measures was do to not knowing exactly the amount of funding the city would receive in state aid during the current fiscal year.

The move by the Council is counter to the decision of the Budget Commission to tax the non-profits. Numerous times throughout 2012, the Commission overturned votes by the then City Council reinstating the non-profits tax exempt status.

Tuesday’s majority vote by the Council could be seen as an attempt at an end-around the Commission’s five-year budgetary plan. If the General Assembly approves the Council’s resolutions, the current city budget would have a shortfall of roughly $112,000, according to both City Manager Peter Graczykowski and City Finance Director Malcolm Moore.

The resolutions would reinstate the tax exempt status of the following organizations: Boys and Girls Club of East Providence, Inc.; Columbus Club of East Providence; Columbus Club of Barrington; East Bay Community Action Program; Lodge 2337 BPO Elks; Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra & Music School; Self Help, Inc.; St. Andrews Lodge No. 39. and Zion Gospel Temple, Inc.

Each of the resolutions read in part the entity “shall be entitled to acquire, take, receive and hold by purchase, sale, gift, lease, devise, bequest or otherwise, real and personal estate of every kind and description without limitation on the total amount thereof, for religious, charitable or educational purposes, communication and communication technology and to use, manage, operate, improve, and apply same for the aforementioned purposes.  The said corporation and all of their said real and personal estate including registration of motor vehicles shall be exempt from all taxes imposed by the state and by any political subdivision thereof, which said exemption shall apply to all taxes imposed by law upon real and personal estate.”

Each also read, “the East Providence City Council hereby requests that the City Clerk send a copy of this Resolution to the Governor of the State of Rhode Island, the Lieutenant Governor of the State of Rhode Island, the President of the Rhode Island Senate, the Speaker of the Rhode Island House of Representatives, and the Senators and Representatives from the City of East Providence.”

Another money matter of note from Tuesday’s meeting had the Council vote by a 2-1 count to take two parcels of land for sale on Harding Avenue off the market. Councilors Capobianco and Rossi voted for the resolution. Councilman Briden voted no. Councilors Rose and Cunha abstained.

City Solicitor Timothy Chapman informed the Council the city had received two deposits of $1,000 each on the properties. Following an intense plea by area neighbors and a review of past Council comments on the matter, the vote was taken. Residents of the tightly fitted neighborhood known for its narrow, angled roads were angered about adding more houses to the already congested area as well as having not been given the opportunity to purchase the lots as they had asked to do in the past.

Messrs. Rose and Cunha said they abstained for lack of information on the specifics of the matter. Mr. Cunha said he was especially concerned with any legal ramifications the city may face from the potential buyer.

The Harding Avenue properties were some of several owned by the city the Budget Commission and later the Council agreed to package for sale over the last year.

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