EXECUTING ON A PLAN: Gayle Corrigan, the chief of staff for the receiver of Central Falls, has been using some economic development ideas from Woonsocket in the effort to bring growth to Central Falls.
PBN PHOTO/MICHAEL PERSSON
By Michael Souza PBN Staff Writer
It is an economic-recovery program unlike any other attempted in Rhode Island, designed to help a community that had declared bankruptcy get back on its feet. State officials are confident the Economic Expansion Incentive Program is a step in the right direction toward solvency for economically distressed Central Falls.
If it works, the plan could become a template used to assist other financially strapped municipalities, including East Providence, says Keith W. Stokes, executive director of the R.I. Economic Development Corporation.
After stabilizing Central Falls’ finances, state-appointed Receiver Robert G. Flanders Jr. has proposed a series of measures to encourage strong capital investments, improvements to property and employment of city residents.
The plan includes 25 percent increases in property tax exemptions for homeowners, senior citizens and veterans. It also proposes a 25 percent increase to existing property-improvement tax exemptions and increases the annual homestead exemption to $800 from $647.
“It’s a multistage process,” Flanders told Providence Business News. “The ordinances that will implement the ideas won’t be fully vetted and finalized until after the hearings, which could be at the end of March or early April.”
Flanders said the powers of the city’s elected officials are now in the office of the receiver, and therefore he is in charge of the planned ordinance changes. Other than that, the changes will go through the usual public-hearing procedures to be held at City Hall for comment, disapproval or improvement. Flanders will have final say on the ordinances and insists he will act in the best interest of the city, as directed by the governor.
“I hope we get some suggestions that if they were an improvement, would make us reconsider one or more of these ideas,” he said.
Flanders’ goal is to encourage lasting growth of the city’s tax base by making large investments more attractive. The recovery plan is comprised of two parts. A Jobs Creation Incentive Plan would reduce tangible personal property taxes for employers who create quality jobs in the city. A Real Property Improvement Incentive Plan, in turn, would promote construction or renovation projects.