‘Proprietor-occupied’ Measure Is Unfair – Newport This Week

Alex Malm

To the Editor:

A basic tenet of any tax policy has three elements: (1) it raises the money the government needs; (2) it is easily administered and avoids opportunities for avoidance; and (3) it is fair to those who must pay it.

House Bill 8182 does not meet the third criterion.

It does not distinguish between nonresident homeowners who do not rent their property. It also ignores the fact that nonresident homeowners do not send children to public schools, overburden public works such as trash collection, require social services required of deserving residents, and in most cases do not overtax law enforcement. All these things provide a net economic benefit to Newport.

It is also grossly unfair to property owners who do not vote in Newport. What politician would not jump at a chance to lower taxes only for those who are able to vote for them?

Finally, it may or may not be true that lower property taxes for full-time residents will result in more affordable housing units. I don’t see the logic, as people will continue to maximize their own economic situation. I would like to see concrete examples where this policy has been successful.

The best way to expand the availability of housing units is to expand the number of units, provide public incentives to developers, and incentives to individual owners to make renting more attractive. And maybe not allow more luxury hotels to be built. Newport had the opportunity to provide more affordable housing at the Grand Casino site. It was rejected and now sits as a derelict hulk.

Robert Sabo Newport