So the ProvPort Non-Profit Operating Company is Just a Front?

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One of the poorly (deliberately?) advertised additions to the 2017 budget last night was a $20 million bond proposal which would fund the acquisition by the Port of Providence of certain properties on Allens Avenue. RI Center for Freedom and Prosperity CEO Mike Stenhouse accurately calls the bonds more corporate welfare.

GoLocalProv’s Kate Nagle has an excellent investigative report showing that

ProvPort, the non-profit operator of the Port of Providence seeking a $20 million taxpayer bond, paid management fees to a sister for-profit company of more than $11 million over the three most recently reported years. The $11 million is approximately half on ProvPort’s total revenue. …

The relationship between the non-profit and for-profit raises concerns. The non-profit takes in the money, only has one employee, and transfers millions every year over to a for-profit company.

Probably this arrangement is legal, though it certainly seems like a convenient set up to avoid corporate taxes.

So the proposition by Smith Hill leaders is that we should pay our hard-earned tax dollars to help fund real estate acquisitions for a company that is attempting to DODGE taxes? And, no, it doesn’t mitigate the situation that the state would own the new parcels. The parcels would still benefit ProPort, not to mention the larger point that state government should get smaller, not larger.

Look, I don’t want to have to look at or care about the corporate structure or tax arrangements of a company. But you’re forcing me to by proposing to reach into my wallet on their behalf. Out of all of the bond referenda on the ballot this November, this should be the easiest and fastest “No” of the bunch.



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