Airport appeals to up city payments

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Usually when Mayor Joseph Solomon is invited to Green Airport it’s to be a part of an announcement that another airline has chosen to fly out of Rhode Island, opening new destinations and bringing more economic opportunities to the city and the state.

But while the mayor and members of the City Council tout Green as an economic engine at these events, when they get back to City Hall and face the realities of balancing a budget, the airport is viewed as an expense. Exactly how much Green costs the city is difficult to calculate. As it is state land, more than 1,000 acres in the middle of the city, the airport doesn’t pay taxes, yet city police and fire respond to Green. In addition, the city has lost the tax revenues of hundreds of homes and scores of businesses the state has acquired over decades to expand the airport.

Last month, the council approved a resolution calling on the airport to make a $900,000 payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) in addition to the $500,000 it is compensated for police and fire services. Citing Federal Aviation Administration regulations on the diversion of airport generated funds, Iftikhar Ahmad, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Airport Corporation, said that would be illegal. Yet Ahmad is sympathetic to the financial problems faced by the city.

A spokesman for the FAA said Monday the federal act regulating the diversion of funds allows for payments to municipalities to cover airport related expenses. He said the Green Airport PILOT was put in place in 1988.

According to RIAC calculations, the city actually receives more than $5 million annually from the airport, a number Solomon questions but isn’t arguing at this time. In addition to the $500,000 payment to offset public safety services, Ahmad lists taxes paid by the Red Beam Garage that is part of the airport campus but privately owned, revenues generated by car rental and hotel taxes and taxes paid by businesses operating from the airport.

As separated as the city and the airport are over the numbers, Solomon and Ahmad were all smiles at Thursday’s RIAC board meeting. The board approved a resolution calling on the FAA to ease restrictions so that it could increase payments in lieu of taxes to the city.

Solomon reinforced the need for additional airport funding. He said over the past two years, Warwick firefighters and rescue responded to 700 calls at the airport. The city is working on the number of police response to Green over the same time period.

“Tax rolls have decreased significantly, we do need relief to the taxpayers,” he told the board.

Solomon said he would join RIAC in working with the state Congressional delegation to push for revisions in the regulations allowing for a PILOT. RIAC board member Michael Traficante suggested the city also petition the General Assembly for an airport PILOT. Warwick does receive payment in lieu of taxes for the Community College of Rhode Island, but not for the airport.

Solomon said he doesn’t care whether the money comes from the airport or the state as long as the city got it. He pointed out that as an international airport, Green is a gateway to the world, and city police play a role in providing security. He urged that the city and airport work together for the benefit of Warwick and the state.

Reached after the unanimous board vote, Solomon reiterated, “We need assistance.”

“It’s a very positive action by the board. It’s how willing [RIAC is] to assist and address the needs of the taxpayer,” he said.

The FAA spokesman said other regional airports with PILOTs include Manchester in New Hampshire and Portland, Maine. He said for Green to see an increase in PILOT the act establishing the program would require congressional action.

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richard corrente

"Renegotiate the Airport Agreement".

Where have we heard THAT before?

Damn the critics who said "It's a done deal. It can't be renegotiated." They're wrong. Solomon is doing it!

Former Mayor Avedisian gave away the tax revenue of over 100 homes (millions of dollars!) and in return the Airport gave Warwick citizens air pollution, water pollution, noise pollution and soil pollution. That agreement was horrible for the 80,000 Warwick taxpayers that are paying the tab. It's like me saying "I like your car. I'm going to buy it from you. I'll give you nothing for it." and you saying "That's fine!

The Airport is a great asset to the citizens of the State of Rhode Island, but it's the citizens of Warwick are paying a heavy "pollution" price for it. Avedisian just didn't care. It seems that Solomon does.

Stay tuned. This isn't over. But it's going in the taxpayers direction and that can only be good. Solomon deserves credit for the effort, regardless of the result.

Happy Valentines everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Tuesday, February 12
wwkvoter

corrente needs to be corrected again and again on basic facts (which is why he was blown out in back to back elections). 100 homes generate tax revenue, BUT THEY ALSO CREATE EXPENSES. corrente only talks about the taxes, not the expenses.

the taxes on average might be 3500 per home per year, bringing in a total 350,000 per year. (NOT "millions and millions as the deranged like to say)

the main expense is schools. it costs something like 16,000 per child per year. if the average is even ONE child per home, that's 1.6 MILLION per year. add to that trash pickup, road maint, police, and fire... and you get the idea.

lets see... 350,000 taxes and 1,600,000 for schools, and LOTS more for city services we no longer have to pay.

THIS crap is exactly why no one... and I mean NO ONE... takes the taxpayers spammer seriously...

HAPPY REAL MAYOR SOLOMON DAY EVERYBODY!

Tuesday, February 12
richard corrente

Dear WwkVoter, AKA Henry Krinkle,

Even if your numbers are right (and they're not) that's over $1,000,000 every three years! How many years do you think the airport will be here? And, by the way, the School Budget of $165 million added to the bond of $40 million divided by less than 9,000 students comes to over $22,000 per student. If we had more taxpayers, our cost per student would decrease. Simple economics. If you don't believe me, I don't care.

Lastly, I didn't know you started a REALMAYOR SOLOMON DAY. Is there a celebration? Can I go? Can you get me a VIP pass? Will there be food?

Let me know.

Happy Valentines everyone.

Happy REAL MAYOR SOLOMON DAY Henry.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

Tuesday, February 12
wwkvoter

Corrente says " comes to over $22,000 per student. If we had more taxpayers, our cost per student would decrease. Simple economics. If you don't believe me, I don't care."

THIS HAS TO BE A JOKE! He just proved MY point, it costs way more to support 100 homes and educate their children than they will EVER pay in property taxes. And "if we had more taxpayers the cost per student would decrease" another scarily crazy statement that makes absolutely no sense unless you believe in rube goldberg perpetual motion machines.

Wednesday, February 13
Cat

It is a little hasty to say this is being renegotiated. While the board did vote and all left on a positive note, there is still the matter of congressional action.

"He said for Green to see an increase in PILOT the act establishing the program would require congressional action."

It isn't a done deal until that is approved. That could take years. We are still left with the same contract at the date and time.

Wednesday, February 13
richard corrente

Dear Cat,

Respectfully, no.

Solomon IS RENEGOTIATING. He's trying. I have to give him credit for that. Will he succeed? Maybe, but he IS renegotiating. Avedisian never gave a damn. Solomon seems to care a lot more.

Hey Cat.

Happy Valentines DAY!

Happy Valentines DAY everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

5 days ago
Oxapawtuxet

The Airport has its own police and Fire Dept. Warwick went to the general assembly to make it a law that the WFD was responsible for airport buildings and most of there responses are for medical calls that the city charges for so why they need more is questionable unless the give aways that they have in there contracts are unsustainable. as for the police the airport police handle all airport issues . when these agencies respond to other cities do they charge them A NO so when they assist the airport why do they want to charge and what about all the economic benefits the airport brings in. Im sure a city like Pawtucket would love to have what the airport brings to Warwick

4 days ago
richard corrente

Dear Oxapawtuxet,

Although I agree with your comments, that does not take into consideration the added water pollution, air pollution, noise pollution and soil pollution that Warwick citizens are paying dearly for. For those reasons I feel Warwick deserves an increase in the PILOT.

Happy St. Patricks Oxapawtuxet.

Happy St. Patricks everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

4 days ago
richard corrente

Dear WwkVoter, (AKA Henry Krinkle),

Henry!

If we added more taxpayers they would bring more students with them. That Henry, means the school budget would be divided by more students! That means the cost-per-student would GO DOWN! Use a calculator Henry. The school budget is fixed. The number of students are variable. Basic economics man!

Happy St. Patrick everyone.

Rick Corrente

The Taxpayers Mayor

4 days ago