Providence ‘looking into’ Rep. Carnevale’s residency status

Rep. Carnevale, right, refuses to answer questions as he walks into the State House.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Providence officials plan to review whether state Rep. John Carnevale is eligible to pay the city’s lower owner-occupied tax rate at his Barbara Street property after a Target 12 investigation frequently found Carnevale at another home he owns in Johnston.

“We’re looking into it,” Evan England, a spokesman for Mayor Jorge Elorza, said Tuesday.

Carnevale, a 54-year-old Democrat who has represented House District 13 since 2009, has been registered to vote at 150 Barbara St. since 1980, city records show. He co-owns the two-family home with two other members of his family. Four vehicles and a motorcycle owned by Carnevale are all registered in Providence.

But none of Carnevale’s vehicles were ever seen at 150 Barbara St. while Target 12 was conducting undercover surveillance there, whereas three of them were seen at the Johnston property. That includes the vehicle Carnevale regularly drives to the State House, which was spotted parked at the Johnston property as late as midnight.

Carnevale was at the Johnston property on a recent day when he was caught on tape wrapping his face in a T-shirt, apparently to avoid being seen after he seemed to spot undercover Target 12 surveillance cameras rolling.

In a text message, Carnevale declined to comment.

As it stands now, Providence’s owner-occupied tax rate is $19.25 per $1,000 of assessed value while its non-owner-occupied rate is $33.10 per $1,000. The city previously had one residential property tax rate, but gave a 50% tax break – known as a homestead exemption – to anyone who lived in the property they owned. The homestead was eliminated in 2013 in favor of the separate rates.

City records show Carenvale’s Barbara Street home has received a homestead exemption or owner-occupied rate since 1987. Carnevale and his co-owners have combined to pay $20,164 in property taxes on the property since he was elected to the House in 2008.

In order to qualify for an owner-occupied tax rate, residents are required to fill out a two-page declaration as well as provide copies of their Rhode Island vehicle registration and their driver’s license. New applicants for the owner-occupied rate are required to list all other properties they own on the declaration form, but that information was not required when Carnevale last recertified his owner-occupied status in 2012, according to a spokesperson for the city.

On Monday, Carnevale amended nine years of financial disclosures he previously filed with the Rhode Island Ethics Commission to list additional properties he owns, including 895 Greenville Ave. in Johnston; a lot on Kinfield Street in Providence; and a lot on Rattlesnake Road in Brownfield, Maine. He lists his official residence as 150 Barbara St., which he also co-owns.

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Dan McGowan ( dmcgowan@wpri.com ) covers politics, education and the city of Providence for WPRI.com. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter: @danmcgowan

Tim White and Ted Nesi contributed to this report.

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