Sometimes being affluent can feel like being superior. Pawtucket Rep. Carlos Tobon wanted East Greenwich Rep. Anthony Giarrusso to know this isn’t the case when it comes to the car tax.
During a conversation about the car tax in the House Finance Committee earlier this week, Giarrusso got caught trafficking in a common canard of the rich – namely that wealth and fiscal management are related.
“I just have a simple question as someone who lives in East Greenwich where we have a maximum exemption of $6,000 already,” Giarrusso said. “How would our reimbursement compare to somebody who that maybe doesn’t manage their town finances as well as we do, that has only a $500 exemption, will it be disproportionate?”
Of course, East Greenwich’s generous car tax exemption is unrelated to how well – or poorly – it manages its finances. There simply aren’t that many cars worth less than $6,000 in this upscale suburb. Not to mention the average home in EG is worth $404,100, so there’s plenty of other higher-value property to tax in town.
More importantly, it’s simply not true that a lower car tax exemption is in any way related to fiscal mismanagement. It’s evidence of a greater need for money. And more cheaper cars from which to get it.
Tobon, of Pawtucket, where the car tax exemption is $500 and the average home price is $180,100, set Giarrusso straight.
“I just want to clarify for Rep Giarrusso, who I have great respect for,” Tobon said. “I ask that, a lot of the communities, they don’t necessarily mishandle their finances, the circumstances that they deal with. And I think that urban communities and other the communities outside the urban core I think they handle things a little differently because of, you know, the different needs. So just saying that out of respect, and you know I have great respect for you, but that would be considerate.”
Committee Chairman Marvin Abney, of Newport, was quick to quash the topic, saying, “that’s one of the those sidebar questions that we don’t need a response to. I got it, but that’s a sidebar.
UPDATE: In related news, East Greenwich teacher and resident Ben Revkin posted this yesterday: East Greenwich Has an Exceptionalism Problem.