Lincoln Institute in the News

Brown University, the Ivy League school whose endowment grew to $2.5 billion last year, may boost voluntary tax payments to Providence, Rhode Island, after the city said it was nearing bankruptcy. Governor Lincoln Chafee last week intervened to restart talks over the school’s so-called payments in lieu of taxes after Mayor Angel Taveras, 41, said the city was about to run out of cash. While Brown is tax exempt, it has been paying more than $1 million a year since 2003 when the city sought help after a recession. In May, Taveras sought a $5 million increase. Providence is seeking to emulate Boston, which is on pace to raise collections in lieu of taxes from Harvard University and other institutions by 25 percent to about $19 million this year, city documents show. Mayor Thomas M. Menino is trying to double the number of schools, hospitals and cultural institutions that pay by pressing more than 20 that gave nothing last year. “The issue is how do we move beyond where we are and do something that is good for the city but not crippling for the university,” Ruth Simmons, Brown’s president, said Jan. 23 in her campus office. “Five million dollars -- that’s at the level of being crippling for the university and it’s completely out of scale with what universities do.” Since charities are exempt from most taxes, lawmakers from Palo Alto, California, to Pittsburgh turned to alternative levies and fees as colleges, hospitals, and other nonprofits expand, increasing demands for public services. More than 100 communities in 18 states have collected payments in lieu of taxes since 2000, according to a report from the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy, a nonprofit group in Cambridge.

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