During my term on the City Council, I have introduced ordinance proposals to address City issues as follows:

1.    Homestead Exemption Reform (introduced and enacted into law)

The City provides homeowners with a 50% exemption if they label their home address as their primary residence.  Many people claiming this exemption were registering their automobiles at other addresses, and the City was losing motor vehicle tax revenue as a result.  I introduced a resolution to close the “Florida license plate” loophole which you can read by clicking here: Reform Ordinance.  The City Council enacted the ordinance in 2011, and it took effect in 2012.  The administration estimates that it will raise an addiitonal $6 million in annual revenues for the City without raising tax rates.


2.     Redistricting reform (introduced and approved by the City Council, on the November ballot for voters)

The City Council revised ward boundaries in the Sprin 2012, a once-a-decade process required to account for changes in the U.S. Census.  The process was quite contentious, as people criticized the City Council for basing decisions on excessively political considerations.  Working with Common Cause, I developed a package of reforms to the redistricting process to make the procedures more transparent (by increasing public notice) and to express clear standards concerning the proper (and improper) factors that may be considered in developing ward boundaries.  You can read the proposal by clicking here: Redistricting reform.  The City Council approved the proposal and the Mayor approved it as well.  It will be on the November ballot for the voters to consider as Question 18, the very last question.  You can see a copy of the third page of the ballot with Question 18 by clicking here: providence3.pdf


3.      Pay-to-play regulation (introduced)

One of the issues that arose in the Plunderdome trial was the “tow list,” which revealed a link between campaign contributions and awards of City business to private contractors.  In September, 2012 I introduced a resolution to restrict campaign contributions by vendors currently doing business with the City or planning to do so in the future.  You can read the proposed ordinance by clicking on this link: pay to play.  The proposal will be heard before the Ordinance Committee this Fall.


4.       257 Thayer Street

         In September, 2012, I introduced a resolution to urge the City Plan Commission to provide a full and complete review of the 257 Thayer Street project as it moves forward after the City Council approved changes to the zoning ordinance and comprehensive plan.  You can read the ordinance by clicking on this link: 257 Thayer  The ordinance also urges the Department of Planning and Development to conduct a thorough study of the Thayer Street neighborhood over the next 6-9 months.


5.        Eliminating the “welcome to Providence” tax penalty (introduced)

          For some people buying a new home in Providence, the current tax system imposes an unfair penalty.  Providence homeowners are entitled to a 50% property tax exemption on their principal residence, but people who buy houses that are not already exempt may have to pay higher taxes for 18 months before receiving the benefit of the exemption.  As this example illustrates, the penalty can exceed $3,500 for a house worth $250,000.  I introduced two ordinances to address the issue in different ways.  The first would achieve modest reform by providing a flat tax abatement of $500 for all home buyers who are faced with this penalty (to read, click here: Abatement ordinance).  The other, more comprehensive alternative would be to adjust the home buyer’s taxes to apply the exemption immediately after purchase of the house.  (To read this version, click here: Comprehensive reform).  The City Council’s Ways and Means Committee is scheduled to hear these proposals on November 20, at which time the Tax Assessor will be asked to describe implementation issues.

6.        Clarifying the permitted uses of Providence water

 At its February 2 meeting, the City Council approved a Resolution I introduced proposing State legislation that would clarify permitted uses of water purchased by cities and towns from water supplies (such as Providence) for resale.  The legislation would limit the use of such water to customers located within the city or town in question.  On February 16, Senator Gayle Goldin introduced Bill S-0334, which would achieve this goal based on the language proposed in the Resolution.