Rooney asks St. Mark’s and Fay to contribute more

by susan on February 3, 2011

Post image for Rooney asks St. Mark’s and Fay to contribute more

Selectman John Rooney thinks it’s time for the non-profits in town to step up. With the backing of the Board of Selectmen, Rooney recently asked both St. Mark’s and Fay School to increase their payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) donations to help cover the cost of town services they use, and to compensate for the loss of property tax revenue on residential property owned by the schools.

In reports sent to each school, Rooney asked St. Mark’s to increase its voluntary contribution from $20K annually to $300K and Fay from $10K to $200K.

Rooney said this week the response so far as not been encouraging.

“I met with St. Mark’s and they decided not to materially increase their contribution,” Rooney said. “I’m disappointed.”

Fay has not yet said what they’ll do. Rooney said he expects to hear from them later this month or early next month.

Rooney says he’s not deterred. “The next step is to convince our state legislators to move forward with a bill to remove the tax exemptions,” he said. Toward the end, Rooney and the Board of Selectmen have invited Southborough’s legislators to talk about PILOT contributions at their meeting next week.

To arrive at the proposed PILOT donations, Rooney collected data from police, fire, and the public schools. In the case of St. Mark’s, Rooney calculated the school uses $185K worth of town services annually. He also determined that the tax revenue lost on residential property owned by the school totals $206K each year.

In making the calculations, Rooney said he gave the school “the benefit of the doubt” by not including, for example, tax revenue lost on the institutional buildings and other property they own, which he said would have made the amount “substantially higher.”

Rooney said when he met with St. Mark’s they pointed out that in addition to their $20K PILOT donation, they also pay $32K in property taxes on the golf course on Latisquama Road. They also said they educate 30 Southborough students, which lessens the load on the public schools.

Selectmen will appeal to Southborough’s state legislators at the board’s meeting on Tuesday, February 8. Southborough residents are invited to attend. The PILOT discussion is scheduled to start at 7:30 pm.

If you’d like to read the reports for yourself, here they are.

1 Trixie February 3, 2011 at 1:01 PM

Its about time – I love this guy!

2 djd66 February 3, 2011 at 3:07 PM

You go Rooney! I agreee with Trixie – its about time they pay their fair share. What I would love to see – is a list of all exempt property and what they are currently contributing. This is just plain old wrong! St. Marks give the town $20K – are you kidding me? I love the response – that they take 30 kids out of our school system – yeah and the parents of those kids pay an additional $40K to the school (on top of the property taxes they pay) It is about time that this tax exemption goes away. Is there currently a bill to overturn this exemption in the State House?

3 mike e February 3, 2011 at 4:39 PM

A $20K/year donation from a school that is charging $40K a year per student? There seems to be a rather large disconnect here especially considering the school uses $185K a year in town resources! St. Marks should donate at least enough to cover the costs they incur. Well done Rooney.

4 Lisa February 3, 2011 at 5:52 PM

Even if they continue to say no- keep asking Rooney!
Thank you, makes me glad I voted for you :)

5 Carol February 3, 2011 at 7:51 PM

Three cheers to Mr Rooney It is long over due that St Marks and Fay School are told or politely asked to give more… What they give is less than some of the town residents pay for one home… Hurrah I think a lot of town people will back you up..Thank you

6 Don February 3, 2011 at 8:30 PM

Thank you Mr Rooney. It is refreshing to have someone as yourself request St Marks and Fay school to do their fair share. It has been a long time coming. and It will certainly be an uphill battle. Good luck . We the taxpayers in the town salute you.

7 bob a February 4, 2011 at 7:20 AM

The law is on the school’s side so don’t expect anything from Fay or St Marks.

The Autistic Center is mostly funded throught state taxpayer dollars and I find it quite strange that they can fork over $100,000 (not sure of the exact amt) of our money.

The only way to force this issue is to change the law. Maybe the law can be modified to exclude non school structures from the exemption, mainly housing provided to staff.

In this way the schools still get the break they deserve.

I suggest the town selectmen talk with Steve Levy and Carolyn Dykema to file legislation and work with the City of Worcester who are also trying to get more funds from the educational institutions.

8 Amy February 4, 2011 at 8:53 AM

I am disappointed by the comment that was made about the Southborough students that attend St Mark’s and lesson the load. The Southborough public schools also teach the children of the St Mark and Fay teachers. I just find it insulting to say we help you out by educataing some of the locals- those parents pay your instituions greatly for that opportunity. Our class sizes have gone up and we are struggling- please do not insult our intelligence but saying you’re helping the situation.

9 Lisa February 4, 2011 at 11:11 AM

Well said Amy!! My thoughts exactly.

10 jojama February 4, 2011 at 11:51 AM

That is exactly what I was thinking when I read St. Mark’s comments!!! Way to go Mr. Rooney!!

11 ProCop February 4, 2011 at 9:14 AM

How about we ask for a 50 foot strip of land next to the Fire station so we can correct the traffic flow problem at the fire/police site. The police have been complaining about the hill for some time. This aquisition would benifit the site as it sits today, or a future renovation plan of the PD or a future addiditon to the FD.

12 Lisa February 4, 2011 at 11:16 AM

How about we only give St. Marks 20K in services? Once they go through that they are on their own.

13 djd66 February 4, 2011 at 12:58 PM

Why not bill the school for the services they receive? Is there anything stopping the town from sending the school a bill?

The town is struggling to balance the budget,… we can’t pay for our schools – yet we have St. Marks that buys(taking it off the tax rolls) + builds property in town for faculty housing. The faculty are sending their kids to our schools without paying for it,…. and they have the nerve to only give the town $20K! How many kids for St. Marks faculty attend Southborough Public schools? This is complete B.S. and something should be done. Why should St. Marks or any other place in town be exempt from contributing their fair share? What I find incredible, is you have the New England Center for Children – educating the kids that need special help – paying $100K per year voluntarily and then you have a place like ST. Marks – educating privileged kids(for the most part) and they can only come up with $20K

14 John Rooney February 4, 2011 at 1:02 PM

A few additional facts that were not reflected in my report but will be discussed next Tuesday at our meeting:

1. Of the total number of St. Mark’s and Fay children we educated in our public schools, over 35% of those students received Special Educational services, which as we all know, cost more than the so-called “average” per pupil expenditure. Thus, the educational service number reflected in the report is substantially lower than the reality;

2. The Trustees of St. Mark’s have directed the local St. Mark’s personnel to (a) not respond to our report in writing, and (b) not to attend our meeting next week. I find this approach inconsistent with our historical philosophy of partnership and cooperation;

3. St. Mark’s is able to give out over $3 million a year in financial aid and spend over $1 million a year in advertising costs, but indicated in our meeting that there is “no elasticity in their budget” for the town.

I truly believe the time is ripe for our representatives to introduce a bill seeking to remove the 501(c) tax exemption at least as it applies to private educational institutions with an endowment in excess of a certain amount. A limited repeal will not invoke the ire of religious institutions and medical care facilities that have well-oiled machines of lobbyists.

We are presented with a “perfect storm” so to speak given the fiscal realities facing cities and towns, especially when you examine the operations of St. Mark’s and compare those actions with the underlying intent of the legislation back in 1780. I find it hard to believe that the legislation contemplated an exemption that requires regular, hard-working taxpayers to subsidize costs for residential housing and educational services for those residing therein. A compelling case for repeal can be made; we just need to light a fire under our representatives.

15 Rebecca February 4, 2011 at 4:35 PM

If this is a “perfect storm” then I am thinking we better find a way to save ourselves. Why is it we feel that the Private Schools need to foot our debt and mess we got ourselves in?

Maybe we should focus on collecting all the back taxes that are owed to our community? Both Sudbury and Framingham (I think) post a list on their town websites stating who owes taxes. Could Southborough try that? How can we ask for money when we can’t even collect the money due to us by law in a timely fashion?

I worked with the three Private Schools (yes there are 3) to help get this community a new Ladder Truck. Have we forgotten how much they contributed (and has The Board forgotten that Fay also donated to the Police too)? Where is the appreciation for what the schools provide this community (like use of their facilities and giving Southborough a name on the world map)?

Mr. Rooney one of your children attends a Private School in [redacted]. How much does that school give [redacted] every year for the town to spend as it seems fit and cover their debt? During your campaign you discussed during the debate that tax payers who send their children to Private Schools should receive a tax break seeing they don’t used the school system. Is that still on your agenda?

We need to take responsibility for our community. Let’s get real. Just because someone or an institution has funds doesn’t give anyone the right to the funds or the right to tell them they have to give us the funds. We have plenty of 501C’s in the community let’s ask all of them to start donating to the municipalities etc… they use them too.

16 djd66 February 4, 2011 at 9:00 PM

Rebecca –

Nobody ever said that they expect the private schools in town to foot the bills of our town. I think most people would agree it not right that St. Marks only gives the town $20K per year. It is not proportionate to the services they use/consume in our town. I would guess they have millions in an endowment somewhere – why can’t they just pay their fair share? That is why people (myself included) are so pissed off at this. With your logic – why should they give the town anything? As far as where Mr. Rooney sends his kids to school – its none of my business and none of your business and it has nothing to do with the fact our town needs money from everyone in town. He was voted onto the BOS to do a job of running our town in the most efficient manner he can. Our town has a financial crisis and I hope that the people who run St. Marks do the right thing and reconsider how much money they are willing to pay the town. If not, we need to change the laws in this state.

17 jojama February 4, 2011 at 9:21 PM

Rebecca,

Really, Southborough has a name on the world map because of St. Mark’s and Fay? I think the 12 year old baseball team has done more for our social standing than the clout of St. Mark’s and Fay. While I agree we as a town shouldn’t look to the privates to get us out of this mess, but what is wrong with them contributing a fair share? They think that since 30+ paying students go there they are helping us? It sounds like they are double dipping.

18 Re: baseball February 6, 2011 at 2:51 PM

Jojama; I’ve heard that a St. Mark’s faculty kid played on the “12 year old baseball team” which has, according to you, “done more for our social standing than the clout of St. Mark’s and Fay.” If true, then I guess that’s another St. Mark’s contribution to our community.

19 jojama February 6, 2011 at 5:33 PM

I was simply responding to the comment of Southborough being on the world map because of St Marks and Fay School. It was a tongue in cheek comment. It doesn’t matter where the players go to school, that wasn’t my point. There is a much larger issue here, don’t you think?

20 The response... February 6, 2011 at 7:14 PM

…to your original comment was tongue in cheek too. By the way, it is true that a lot of people are aware of the town of Southborough because of St. Mark’s and Fay. Some are surprised to learn that Southborough’s high school is Algonquin.

21 Lisa February 4, 2011 at 9:28 PM

Rebecca,

I don’t think anyone is asking the exempts to “foot our debt”, all we are asking for is to pay their fair share. I dont think that paying 20k and using over 185K in services seem reasonable. I can also appreciate their donation to the ladder truck but I would like to know how much of the 185k in services per year is for the fire before I toot their horn to loud.

And while I may not agree with your post I can appreciate the thought and time you put into writing it. Thank you.

22 Mike Hanigan February 5, 2011 at 1:33 AM

After reading your post, I just wanted to tell you how glad I am that I voted for John Rooney! He’s not perfect, but I really appreciate his openness and all the research he does on issues facing the Board of Selectmen.

I wish we had more people like him running for Selectmen!!!!!

23 Please, not the Ladder Truck......... February 4, 2011 at 7:55 PM

I have great respect for the volunteers who worked hard raising private donations that really allowed us to purchase the truck. I admire your efforts, but please stop praising St. Marks and Fay School for their contributions. While I didn’t memorize the exact numbers, I think one school came in at 100k…. but….over a ten-year period ….so 10k a year at the same time they were purchasing private homes and taking them off the tax base………and who proably needs the ladder truck the most? Hmmmm…….. maybe it’s the multi-story dorms full of students? Give me a break – they aren’t paying their fair share for services.

24 John Rooney February 4, 2011 at 8:09 PM

Rebecca, Opposing view points are crucial to our government, and I would urge you to attend next Tuesday night and be heard. If the consensus in town is that tax exempts should be left alone and business as usual is the preferable course of action, then no individual should ever attempt to impose his/her will on the majority.

A few important considerations. First, we are indeed approaching all of the tax exempts in town and have not singled out specific institutions.

Next, I agree that contributions to the ladder truck reflect efforts at being a good civic neighbor. The report notes that both St. Mark’s and Fay have agreed to contribute $10,000 per year for ten years for this purchase. The town is grateful for this voluntary contribution, just as I assume the residents of the town of Ashburnham are grateful for Cushing Academy’s commitment to the town of $2.7 million for a public safety complex.

In terms of reciprocal use agreements, again you are correct. St. Mark’s allows the residents to skate free for one week during the holiday season. St. Mark’s also allows the town to use their indoor cage for approximately 40 hours a year (without heat), and Fay allows the town to use its gym . In turn, the town allows both St. Mark’s and Fay School to use the track at Trottier for 80 hours each year.

You are correct about the debate. After the debate a young woman approached me and asked about a credit to residents who do not use the school system. I recall indicating that the idea had merit, but I also noted that it was a slippery slope for the same accommodation could be equally applicable to seniors and families without children, and everyone in town benefits from a strong school system. Also, at the time, I did not have a child in private school. I now do. We were fortunate as he was recruited by a number of different private schools in the area because of both his grades and baseball abilities. So, the answer to your question would be “no”, it is not on my agenda as I would have to recuse myself for obvious reasons.

Finally, I do not know if my son’s private school makes a PILOT payment to its town; if they do not, they should.

25 Rebecca February 5, 2011 at 9:47 AM

Mr. Rooney
Thank you for your response. This is always been a tough topic. By no means am I saying that the private schools should not help our community it is the approach we take. Southborough comes across as entitled. It might be prudent to repair relationships with the schools before one puts more demands on them. Respect is earned and The Board in the past has not established any kInd of mutual relations. I can only hope you can change the schools views about our community.

As I said before schools are currently protected by law and we can ‘t get our own residents to pay what they owe the community.

26 Kate February 5, 2011 at 10:31 AM

Thank you Mr. Rooney for providing the facts and encouraging all to participate in this discussion. This topic should stay on course as an issue of fundamental fairness.
Most of us still read the paper or watch the news; Southborough is not alone in the financial balancing act.

Put aside for the moment these are well respected, well financed exclusive schools, they are fundamentally private entities operating in our town and benefiting from the services and infrastructure the town provides. Yes, we do benefit from the use of their facilities on a limited basis but the argument on their end of educating Southborough Students is not relevant. They are not offering free tuition! I too have a child who attends a private school and made that decision fully understanding that my tax dollars would and should not waiver due to that decision.

As individual taxpayers the majority of us are continuing to absorb the towns increased expenses. Many of us voluntarily contribute to multiple school and town fundraising events every year as well. Asking these institutions to reconsider their contributions to the town is more than justified.

27 Kelly Roney February 5, 2011 at 12:44 PM

I’m all for asking for more from St. Mark’s and Fay, not to mention other deep-pocketed non-profits such as the Primate Center and the Harvard Book Depository (though they impose fewer costs on the town). But we should all realize that members of the Board of Selectmen have been asking for a long time, and the answer has always been more or less the same.

Bigger PILOT payments are very unlikely to help us balance our budget.

28 Kathryn Marous February 5, 2011 at 6:22 PM

I want to commend Mr. Rooney on using mysouthborough.com to express his views and disseminate information. I wish more public figures in our town would do the same. The point is often made that if people wanted to know what our town government is doing, we should attend the meetings. It is unreasonable to expect that everyone who reads this blog will attend every meeting. Susan’s posts and these comment discussions have become critical. I think more citizens will attend the meetings because these conversations motivate them. Win win.

29 Pat Q February 6, 2011 at 5:58 PM

Well said Kathryn……was thinking the same thing. Thank you Mr. Rooney
for taking the time to converse with residents via this venue with your name attached. It is a breath of fresh air and so needed in this town and at this time.

30 carrie alpert February 5, 2011 at 8:22 PM

I actually like Lisa’s idea of only providing $20,000 in services or whatever # the town/St. Marks come up with and then after that it is time/materials. Or come up with a punch list per month and pay it every 30 days. I don’t understand why our relationship has to be so lovey dovey–you use our services, thanks for the use of your unheated cages (my son uses them they are exactly that and the novelty wore off in about 20 minutes when he was 8) and the use of your lax field (kids prefer to play at ARHS)

it is the same thing as when i said i wanted to change the law to charge for busing and everyone just flat out said, “it’s the law, we can’t change it” blah-blah-blah.

well, Holliston changed their law and they charge for it–you want to take the bus you pay for it and they have that revenue. And look, before you slam me, Dr. Gobron is not going to say to any family that they cannot take the bus if they cannot afford it– just like every child takes any field trip or anything else the school offers regardless of what is going on in their financial world. Got to love the SOS fundraisers……

and as far as discussing where people send their kids for their education– that is none of anyone’s biz. My kids are mine and what i choose to do with and for them in terms of their health, well being and educational path is my own choosing and doing. It is however no secret that wherever my kids are and whomever is teaching them I will go to bat for them in a serious way–anyone who is with my child for 6 hours a day deserves that, and more.

31 Mark February 6, 2011 at 7:05 AM

Sorry to be off subject but batting cages? Where and what are the hours of availability?

32 Busing February 5, 2011 at 11:06 PM

Carrie, as far as I’m aware, Holliston didn’t actuallyl change the law. Our district is a regional one, and it’s my understanding that the law states that busing can’t be charged for in a regional school district. Other districts which are not regional districts do charge for transportation.

33 carrie alpert February 6, 2011 at 8:13 AM

so, you change the law. or you add to it or come up with something–change is indeed noisy!
you need revenue you make it happen, so because we stayed Regional we cannot charge for busing?– honestly it is why some of us who have very strong personalities and vision see all the paper pushing, boxed in law making and slowness as cumbersome. Life is extremely short. You get to a point where there is only so much head banging against the wall you can do and then you look around at those who have moved on and made other choices and you have a bit of a light bulb moment yourself.

34 I hope... February 6, 2011 at 8:40 AM

…that the level of discourse on this blog doesn’t take a nosedive, as it tends to do when the discussion is moved to the issue of private schools in our town. While some of these posts are reasonable and civil, others are somewhat juvenile, and to me, disappointing. The “Let’s get them, we hate them, they’re think they’re the elite, they’re taking advantage of us, they don’t mow their law, they put our kids in a cold cage” type of posts don’t really serve any purpose, in my opinion. Mr. Rooney is doing an excellent job of presenting facts and attempting to move the dialog forward, which I’d imagine is the most constructive and productive way to go. Mr. Hamilton is also a civil poster, focused on facts, whether or not one agrees with him. Other posts sometimes make me feel embarrassed to live in this town, to be honest.

35 Mike Hanigan February 6, 2011 at 4:13 PM

ditto!!!! Thank you!

36 Mark Ford February 6, 2011 at 7:24 PM

…of course, one main difference between the (excellent!) posts of Mr. Rooney and Mr. Hamilton is that they put their name with their posts, unlike you. The discussion is so much better served when we step forward with our personal perspectives.

37 Thanks February 6, 2011 at 9:11 PM

for your opinion, Mark. Their posts are indeed excellent, but there are plenty of reasons for anonymity on blogs.

38 I hope... February 6, 2011 at 8:40 AM

Whoops…mow their lawN, obviously.

39 Bryan S February 6, 2011 at 9:19 AM

If they are really ‘putting our kids in a cold cage’ it would seem like maybe they really are trying to ‘mow down the law’…

just kidding – appraciate the comments, and the comments about the comments

40 Bryan S February 6, 2011 at 9:20 AM

oops – appreciate…

41 southsider February 7, 2011 at 2:58 PM

Although I don’t have kids in these private schools, I agree with the other posters that believe these schools add value and prestige to our town. They maintain their property in ways that impress and are in fact well-known and highly-respected within the national and international circles of those who follow such things. I believe that they have some positive influence on my property value as well. At past town meetings, I’ve heard other town officials caution against rushing to judgment on this issue. They asked that we picture St. Mark’s property covered with dozens and dozens of homes and think about the tax impact of all those additional kids in our school system. We should be glad they take up so much build-able space in such a classy way. I also hope our newest Selectman gave the schools an opportunity to audit and comment on his numbers.

42 M February 10, 2011 at 2:08 PM

First, I would ask Mr. Rooney to be careful when including statistics about children who receive special education. I don’t know how public this specific information is, but it does not feel right to bring the personal needs of the St. Mark’s families into the discussion. It would be insensitive of the private schools to reveal how many of the Southborough students under their care are receiving financial aid, would it not? Tread lightly in these matters.

43 M February 10, 2011 at 2:08 PM

Mr.Rooney, Second, I read the Pilot report and find the financial statistics and comparisons greatly lacking. We need an indepth cost/benefit type of analysis to compare the potential cost of ALL services supplied by the town to an individual property owner/taxpayer vs. the taxes they pay. Then assume all the acreage owned by the school was covered with house lots and roads and had families in the school system. Add all of the services required by these homeowners. Compare the taxes they input, etc. Add the extra cost of the wear and tear and traffic. Can we evaluate the impact on the beauty of the town and the open spaces? Think also of the differences of a multimillion dollar home in town now vs. a lesser property and what each receives in services. This is an incomplete report. The state should find a source to do a thorough analysis as this is a mighty big can of worms.

And personally I think the schools should step up to do more, but we are now building walls instead of bridges.

44 John Rooney February 10, 2011 at 3:43 PM

Southsider and “M”: Your comments raise valid concerns and let try to address them.

First, I am sorry some find the report “lacking.” Neither St. Mark’s nor Fay School shared that opinion, and in fact complimented the town on the comprehensiveness of the report. As with any ideological document that, by its nature, offers a particular point of view, differences on its efficacy is an expected and welcomed consequence of the effort. I applaud your interest and time stepping up and expressing disagreement with the scope and content of the report. We will just have to end up agreeing to disagree with each other on the substantive material contained therein.

Second, I tend to approach issues like this realistically and pragmatically and not engage in speculative analysis such as “what if” these institutions did not exist and in place hundreds of houses were built on this property. I have found that engaging in this type of thought process, though interesting, severely undermines a Board that is charged with leadership in making decisions. These institutions do exist and will continue to exist long after I am done trying to make decisions that are in the best interest of the town.

Third, you raise a very valid concern, but I can assure you no privacy interests were impacted with the dissemination of student numbers.

Fourth, bridges have been constructed and open from prior efforts. Those bridges of inequity have not been used; there is no traffic or discourse making up for the loss of tax revenue. The bridges remains open, the question is whether the institutions want to cross over. As long as I am on the Board of Selectmen, I will always welcome any and all opportunities that serve to advance the concept of fairness.

Finally, this is not just a St. Mark’s or Fay School issue. I have tremendous respect for these institutions and the people who work incredibly hard at educating students. This is also not just a Southborough issue, as witnessed by Framingham yesterday announcing that they should take a new look at their PILOT efforts. Nor is this just a Massachusetts issue.

What is needed, and what I have said to our state representatives, is a redefinition of what is and what is not a “nonprofit charitable institution.” A charitable purposes exemption is granted when there is an expectation of a benefit that will inure to the public by reason of the exemption. In other words, tax exemptions are justified when property is put to some use calculated to minimize the expenses of government; that there is a present benefit to the general public from the operation of the charitable institution sufficient to justify the loss of tax revenue. The rationale is that local governments “pay” (by not taxing) these organizations in return for a supposed government service. I have yet to hear a compelling argument on how Southborough is “paid” by these institutions’ occupancy of residential property while utilizing town services. Nor am I convinced that back in 1780 when this exemption was created, was such an eventuality contemplated. The reality is that the charitable exemption was created in an age when government provided few services and charities provided many services that government neither provided nor subsidized.

Given the fiscal reality that all cities and towns are faced with, I have to think it is only a matter of time before most states, and perhaps Congress, refine the tax exemptions standards. It was with this likely reality that we approached the tax exempt institutions in our town and offered an agreement that would not only serve the town’s interests, but also protect the institutions’ interests as well. I am afraid, however, that those charged with the decision-making responsibility for the institutions have gone “all in” on the status quo. If they are right, they will continue to grow their endowment; yet, if they have played their cards wrong, the opportunity for entering into an agreement that is less financially onerous compared to a statutory repeal, may be lost.

45 M February 12, 2011 at 11:34 AM

Excuse my ignorance. I didn’t realize that the “town” had presented an “idealogical document” with a “particular point of view”. I was under the impression that Mr. Rooney, as the elected representative, was attempting to present a fair and balanced, well-researched and thorough analysis. The idealogy becomes clearer with every response to our citizen comments.

46 Lisa February 12, 2011 at 12:16 PM

Very well said.

47 removed February 12, 2011 at 11:21 PM

(Removed at commenter’s request)

48 Karen Muggeridge March 2, 2011 at 5:47 PM

Some thoughts on this topic that are by no means inclusive. We have two daughters that went to Fay, although we bought in Southborough intending to use the public schools and did for awhile. I am familiar with not only Fay, but the private school arena. (I also grew up in Northborough and am an ARHS grad, and have lived here in town for 15+ years.)

-First, let me say that I DO support the PILOT program. We must remember though that by law it is a voluntary program. Non-profits have protected rights and for a reason.
-No where in the above article did I read that this program was a substitute for PILOT involvement.
-Although the St Mark’s Balance sheet has been removed, it was helpful showing how the non-profit school budgets are set up. (I am not an accountant, so I may stand corrected on some of this.)
I will try to reference it a little. Let’s assume it was representative of other schools.
It showed 60% of income coming from tuition, 28% from endowment, and 10% from annual fund. That means that 60% from tuition is the ONLY source of “earned” income for the school! The draw off endowment, is donation based, and usually formulaic in how much can be drawn off annually.
If a school did not raise 10%, ($1.8 mil in St. Marks case) in their annual fund the school would NOT be able to meet it’s operating expenses without making extensive cuts, or raising tuition, already at a price point, maxed out for many. Yes, not all things on the expenditure side are fixed and may be flexible. The private schools face the same challenges as far as teacher salaries, technology and equipment updates, etc, that the public ones do though, trust me.
– Parents are extremely involved in the schools in many areas. This includes extensive fund raising to make up this 10% needed annual fund income. This is not a guaranteed income and is part of the OPERATING budget. While I realize the public school has an active SOS , booster programs and many involved parents, does those funds raised, or any additional fees, make up 10% of the public school budget? Could it in tough times such as these? I honestly don’t know.
-The betterments made on the campuses, and acquisitions that everyone sees on a campus like Fay, have been made through capital campaigns. Fundraising and donations made to the schools specifically for those purposes. They generally can not be used for other things.
-The idea of the children of school employees paying tuition was raised. This is a half thought out proposal. To carry it to it’s end, I, or other Southborough residents opting to send our children to other schools in town, would need to get vouchers for at least the same amount were that to even be considered fair.
-The schools DO have a socioeconomic, geographic and ethnically diverse student body that greatly enhances the multifaceted education obtainable there. I feel bad that there is a belief that, “If you have to ask…..”, as all qualified applicants have always been encouraged to apply.
-I am sure the non-profit schools, businesses, religious organizations and other entities appreciate the professional and respectful approach and dialogue with the town on this issue. They have worked with the town in the past, and I trust will do so in the future. “Let’s go after…” is not a good way to continue a positive relationship, nor do the towns fiscal problems belong to the non-profits. Possibly we should look to their business models, short and long range planning as well as their pockets for some help. That right there could help to put us into the black.
-I realize that it is not revenue that can pay down our 1.1 mil deficit, but, in addition to many of the ways already mentioned, and that we are familiar with from past discussions, the private schools do add monetarily to the town in the form of employment of many local people, support of local businesses and use of local contractors. Although Mr Rooney properly mentions he prefers looking at the realities of what is now, I think it does bear remembering that we are much better off financially with the non-profits, than with built out developments.
-I too am very frustrated by the financial situation that the town is in. I personally have served on boards and committees and have been to every town meeting from start to finish since I have lived in town, not just staying for the issues I may feel most vested in. I do feel that I have taken some responsibility in trying to have input in the situation.
-Thank you to the PILOT committee for your hard work and to the Selectman for moving forward in a professional manner with this issue. It is one of the MANY things the town must review in order to get to a more fiscally stable position. I DO support this effort and hope that it moves forward in it’s becoming mutually agreeable and fruitful for all involed.
-Thank you also to the civil and thoughtful posters on all sides of this issue who have done your research. I believe it moves a topic forward when a respectful conversation transpires.
As always, thank you Susan!

49 Frank Crowell March 2, 2011 at 9:46 PM

Karen that was a very well thought out post and you obviously put a lot time into making your point. But it boils down to simple premise that seems to missing from the folks who run Fay and St Marks and that is this: There is no law that makes neighbor. You simply have to do the right thing. Having the town of Southborough provide services well above and beyond PILOT payments made is not being a good neighbor. Hiding behind the law is simply not going to cut it anymore for a growing majority in town.

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