Lesson: Never, Ever Buy or Lease Property in Providence


It’s almost difficult to believe that Patrick Anderson didn’t have a typo or something in his Providence Journal article on Lehigh Cement’s non-resolution over a tax problem with the City of Providence.  The city overcharged the company $500,000 over four years.  As any ordinary individual or entity might do when dealing with municipal government, Lehigh approached the tax assessor’s office and got the run-around for a while as the office changed hands.

Finally going to court, the company has been told it will not get its money back for two reasons that are outrageously contradictory.  First:

… a Superior Court judge ruled against Lehigh and, on appeal, the state high court agreed, writing that while talking with the city about compensation, Lehigh had allowed the statute of limitations to expire.

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If you’re wondering, according to Anderson the statute of limitations is three months.  That abbreviated period gives especial bite to the second reason the business couldn’t get its money back.  Even if it had beat the statute of limitations:

The court agreed with Providence’s defense that Lehigh needed to challenge its bill through the city appeal system instead of going directly to court.

It seems to me that the same government official who should have urged the company to start the appeals process was the one dragging his heals while stealing a half-million dollars from the company.

Perhaps filing an appeal stops the clock on the statute of limitations, but just to be safe, Providence taxpayers should regularly review every bill in fine detail and, when there appears to be a problem, immediately file an appeal as well as a complaint with court.  Or better yet, just stay away from Providence altogether if at all possible.