A Hummel Report Investigation
Nearly two months after a Hummel Report investigation raised questions about why the vice president of the Johnston Town Council was sending her triplets to Narragansett High School - and whether she and her husband were entitled to a homestead tax exemption in Johnston, the verdict is in. Officials in both communities launched their own investigations based on our report. It’s a split decision for the councilwoman, but as Jim Hummel found out this week: the case may not be over.
To read the town solicitor's memo click here.
To read the letter from Manzi's lawyer click here.
To view Manzi's tax bill/exemption click here.
Click here to watch our original report.
Our report seven weeks ago prompted two separate investigations into Johnston Town Council Vice President Stephanie Manzi, who told us her 16-year-old triplets had been attending Narragansett High School since August of 2014.
The superintendent of the school system began gathering information to see if Manzi’s husband, Paul - was, in fact, a resident of Narragansett and whether the children lived with him in this 784-square foot cottage on Ocean Road. If so that would allow them to continue to attend the high school.
At the same time, Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena asked his solicitor, William Conley, to determine if Manzi was improperly receiving a homestead exemption after our report showed she had signed a notarized form stating that neither she nor her husband, who jointly own this house in Johnston, claimed residency in any other town. Councilwoman Manzi told us in our interview that her husband was a resident of Narragansett even though they were not divorced or separated.
Polisena: ``I know it took a couple of weeks, but sometimes, you know, my solicitor does his due diligence, it wasn’t made a quick willy-nilly decision and here’s the decision.’’
Polisena told us this week Conley advised that - based on his research - the Manzis were not entitled to the homestead exemption, which gives residents a 20 percent break on their property taxes.
Polisena: ``As you can see the report is lengthy it’s probably over 100 plus pages.’’
In a 7-page memo, with dozens of pages of supporting documentation, the solicitor also said that according to the Homestead Recertification that Manzi voted for as a councilwoman and signed as a resident last year, she would have to repay the town with penalties and interest.
Polisena: ` There’s no double standards in my administration, we would have done this for anybody else whether it be elected official or not. There were a lot of people out there, Jim I know that thought it was going to get pushed under the table. We don’t do that here. Whether you like me or not, okay, I may be a lot of things, but one thing this administration is, is honest, we don’t have any double standards here. We treat everybody equally and fairly. So they can eat the words now because as I said we don’t do things like that here. That’s the old Johnston.’’
The town’s tax assessor calculated that Councilwoman Manzi would have to reimburse the town $1,765 for the homestead exemption she received, including interest and penalties.