Property tax hike irks city residents

Angry landlords voiced their displeasure with a tax proposal from Providence mayor Angel Taveras at a city council hearing Wednesday night.

"It's bad policy. He should know better. I'm shocked it was that high," Ric Santurri told NBC 10. Santurri owns a few dozen multi-family homes. He and other landlords are upset with the mayor's plan to increase the tax rate on non-owner occupied residential properties by about 25 percent.

Santurri said the added cost will be passed on to renters. "We don't want to put the burden on the poorest people in our society to try and have a house over their head." Santurri also claims the tax plan is bad for business. "It's going to drive people to not invest in Providence. And there's over a thousand boarded up houses in Providence," he said.

David Ortiz, the mayor's spokesman, responded by saying, "Nobody likes raising taxes. We're trying to create the economic conditions in which we have enough growth that we don't have to raise taxes."

The mayor's economic growth plan includes freezing the tax rate on businesses, which he says is one of the highest in the country. Business leaders came out in support of the mayor's plan.

Laurie White, President of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce told NBC 10, "It's important to be competitive on the tax front because there is a direct correlation between taxes and jobs and prosperity and vibrant neighborhoods." She argues that economic growth will eventually help lower everyone's taxes. "The fact that we have so many commercial properties that are vacant is putting even more pressure on the residential homeowner and residential property tax payer," White said.

As for the tax hike for owners who live in their home, the mayor says someone with a house valued at $150,000 would pay an added 12 dollars a month. He claims that new tax rate would be in the middle of the pack of Rhode Island communities.