Header, the Administration of the Honorable Lincoln C. Almond
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  2002 Signature
2002 Veto
2002 No Action

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June 11, 2002


In accordance with the provisions of Rhode Island General Laws § 43-1-4, I am transmitting herewith, with my disapproval, 2002-H 8207, "An Act Relating to Parking Surcharges in the Warwick Airport Parking District."

This bill would impose a five percent (5%) surcharge on gross parking receipts within a newly defined Warwick Airport Parking District, much of which lies outside of the Airport on private parking lots. It also imposes a $250 annual fee on private parking facilities. These funds would be remitted to the tax administrator, and then transferred at least annually to the general fund of the City of Warwick.

If allowed to become law, this bill would open up a Pandora's box. State laws regulating municipal taxation allow only for the taxation of real and tangible property, This bill would eliminate that uniformity by allowing one municipality to effectively place a tax on a common private service. If one community is allowed to raise revenue through special taxes, other communities will follow suit and request the same. Over time, this would result in substantial new taxation by Rhode Island municipalities.

With respect to a parking tax. Providence and Newport will be next in line. Beyond parking, there is no shortage of proposals to enhance municipal revenues. Providence, for example, has proposed a payroll tax on income earned in the City. In addition to violating the present uniformity in municipal taxation ability, this type of bill decreases the State's own future tax capacity.

This bill would create a new tax on our residents. Throughout my Administration, I have worked with the General Assembly to lower taxes. We have made Rhode Island more competitive, and we have strengthened our economy. Increased taxes will make Rhode Island less competitive, will harm our economy, and will eventually erode our tax base and our ability to provide essential services. We do not need to raise taxes to provide the City of Warwick with additional compensation for being the host community of our successful State airport, the stated purpose of the bill with which I agree.

My Administration has a plan to provide the City of Warwick with substantial new annual revenue without imposing a new parking tax. In the works for over two years is a brand new $168 million Warwick Station facility - a state-of-the-art multi-modal transportation center in the Station district that would link the airport to a proposed train station with a consolidated 3,000 car commuter and rental car garage via an automated people mover. The proposed facility, which has been nationally recognized, would serve as a transportation hub, provide good paying construction jobs, relieve traffic from Post Road, free up airport parking by placing rental car companies in their own facility, and jump start significant economic development within the Station district. Just as exciting, the train station would be paid for with federal matching funds, and the consolidated rental car facility and commuter parking would be paid for by the rental car companies through a surcharge on daily rentals, for a total of $151 million in committed funding. The balance would come from other federal matching funds. In short, all sources of funding necessary for the project to proceed have been identified.

If the Warwick Station project moves forward, the Cicy is slated to receive well over $1.1 million annually from the project (and approximately $700,000 retroactive to June 1, 2001), an amount that will increase sharply each year. In addition, the State is slated to pay for $1.5 million in wastewater and drainage improvements to facilitate economic development in the area. These payments, unlike the parking tax this bill imposes, do not involve additional effective municipal taxation on private entities; rather, they result from activities in a unique consolidated rental car facility to be owned by the Airport Corporation.

Unfortunately, while passing this bill, the Senate has not allowed a floor vote on bonding authorization for a crucial part of the project - the people mover that would seamlessly transport airport users to and from their rental cars, the train station and commuter parking spaces. There was no objection in the Senate 10 such authorization last year, and the House has passed it for the second year in a row. Without an automated people mover, the Warwick Station project makes little sense. It is my understanding that the entire Warwick Senate and House delegations support providing bonding authorization for the people mover, as does the City of Warwick. It should go to the Senate floor for approval to facilitate this project.

The Warwick Station project, like the airport itself, will provide long-lasting benefits to the people of Rhode Island and the City of Warwick, along with the type of compensation to the City we all can support.

For the foregoing reasons, I disapprove of this legislation and respectfully urge your support of this veto.


Lincoln Almond