To the editor,
This week approximately 1,600 envelopes were mailed to East Providence businesses with a $25 invoice from the City of East Providence for a business registration fee. The business registration ordinance was recently approved by the city council on February 28. The fee and a notarized registration form must be returned to the City by April 1, 2012 with a fine of $25/day for each day that it is not returned by the deadline.
The phones started ringing as soon as the envelopes started arriving in the mail. Laura McNamara, the chamber’s executive director, said that members and non-members were calling to express their outrage at this “nuisance tax.” “It isn’t the dollar amount that angered them, it was that there was a fee at all.” she said. “The information required on the registration form is also a duplication of information that businesses have to provide the City every January when they submit their notarized Annual Returns to the East Providence Tax Assessor.”
The projected income gained, if all of the businesses return their forms and fees, is about $40,000, Ms. McNamara noted: “They just spent $2,000 to do this mailing and that doesn’t include the cost to process the incoming returns and the follow-up with those that are not returned. The tax assessor’s office claims that this ordinance was created ‘not to raise additional money but to track business entities and insure payment of taxes.’ McNamara said, “If that was the case, then why charge a registration fee and irritate the business owners who are already stressed out from years of economic turmoil? A free registration filing with a late penalty fee would have been more acceptable. However it’s still a duplication of the information they have to provide the City every January.”
Due to the outcry from the business community, the ordinance has been placed on the agenda for the March 20, 2012 city council meeting. The discussion will be whether to amend the ordinance or to revoke it.
The East Providence Area Chamber of Commerce is suggesting that businesses refrain from sending in their fee and form until after the discussion on March 20. They also encourage business owners to contact their city councilperson and express their displeasure with the new ordinance.
Business owners can also contact Kim Casci, East Providence city clerk, at 401.435.7593 for more information about the ordinance. The East Providence Area Chamber of Commerce is also inviting business people to contact them to discuss their concerns regarding the issue firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 401.438.1212.
Editor's note: This letter was submitted by staff members at the East Providence Area Chamber of Commerce.