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.