Advisory Committee proposes linking PILOT agreements to new construction

Fay School West Campus
New dorms at Fay School

Over the past several months, selectmen have met with nonprofits in an attempt to boost their contributions to the town. While some of the discussions have borne fruit — mostly in donations to the ladder truck fund — selectmen still consider the relationship between the town and its nonprofits inequitable.

Last week selectmen formed a committee to evaluate the situation.

The Advisory Committee, for their part, was vying for a different approach. The committee proposed a bylaw that would require nonprofits to enter into a binding PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) agreement before new permits or variances would be issued. This was the proposed wording:

No board, elected or unelected official shall issue any variance, permit or other approval that is within their discretion to authorize for an activity related to a tax exempt property, or activity on our about a tax exempt property, unless the owners of said property enter into a binding Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreement with the Town of Southborough for a period of at least 5 years from the date of the requested variance, permit or approval. Said Payment in Lieu of Taxes shall be an unrestricted payment to the General Fund and will reasonably approximate the costs of the municipal and school services borne by the Town as a result of the Tax Exempt entities activities in the Town of Southborough.

This by law relates only to the discretionary authority given to boards, and elected or unelected officials. No permit or other authorization that is due to the Tax Exempt entity by right shall be denied.

Selectmen met with town counsel to review the proposed bylaw and came away with “serious reservations” about whether it would be considered legal. As a result, you won’t see it on the warrant at the special town meeting next month.

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John
13 years ago

I understand the intent, but it’s a bit late. Those schools will probably not have any new projects for quite sometime. And, I truly would not think it is legal to mandate that permits would be contingent upon a PILOT. If this were to come to fruition, the lawsuits would pile up and the Town would have no ground to stand on. Take this idea back to the table and slip it quietly into the circular file.

Mimi22
13 years ago

I agree 100% and very well-stated John.

DEE
13 years ago

DItto

Heather
13 years ago

Isn’t the foundation of the PILOT program based on a VOLUNTARY donation by non-profits to town in which they reside?

Maybe I’m mistaken…

John
13 years ago

Here’s the Fay “menu”: http://www.fayschool.org/fay/admissions/tuition_fees.htm

And don’t forget….pre-school coming in 2010!

Marty
13 years ago

I looked at this site which lists all the Advisory communications and it seems like this “proposal” was just a trial balloon by Al Hamilton trying to goad Fay into paying a reasonable fee.

In any case, I’m sure it raised an eyebrow or two at Fay.

After seeing Al at town meetings for many years, it seems he does a nice job of forcing difficult issues into public discussions.

I wonder if Al would consider running for Selectman next year?

Marty
13 years ago

Sorry – I forgot to post the site with the info re Hamilton’s PILOT issue.

http://southboroughadvisory.nexo.com/

I personally think its a silly idea and a distraction from a significant issue.

I wonder if it would be possible to change the state (or is it federal) law so housing/dormitories/faculty residences used by non-profits could be taxed? I can see how one would not want to tax the classroom buildings, etc but what difference is there between a dormitory at say BU, and a privately owned apartment building?

Sure, there may be some occasional meetings in the faculty homes, but I’ll bet that’s not the majority of the use.

Previously, I worked for a firm and had access to a company car for personal use. I either had to pay part of the expenses or report teh value of the personal use as income for tax purposes.

I wonder is the housing provided to the teachers at Fay is considered as taxable income?

This is an interesting issue that deserves some attention.

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