Selectmen talk non-profits, other fiscal issues with state legislators

Like they did last year around this time, Southborough’s state legislators — Senator Jamie Eldridge and Representatives Carolyn Dykema (Southborough Precincts 2 and 3), and Danielle Gregoire (Southborough Precinct 1) — came before the Board of Selectmen this week to talk about the fiscal challenges facing the town. One big topic of conversation was taxation of non-profit organizations.

Southborough has four major non-profit organizations in town: St. Mark’s School, Fay School, New England Center for Children, and Harvard University (Primate Center and book depository). Because they’re non-profits, the organizations don’t pay property taxes to the town, although they use town services like fire and police, and some of their resident employees send their kids to Southborough public schools.

In the past, each of the non-profits has made annual voluntary payment-in-lieu-of-taxes (PILOT) donations, and they each contributed funds toward the purchase of a new aerial ladder truck. But the amount of the donations vary widely, and there’s nothing forcing the non-profits to do it.

“We’re very thankful the private institutions all stepped up and agreed to help us fund our ladder truck,” Selectman Bill Boland said. But he told the legislators that particularly those non-profits with residential housing use more in town services than they pay for. “We’re not looking to tax all these institutions, but what we are looking to do is cover our services.”

Representative Gregoire said other state reps – one from Boston and one from Framingham – have introduced legislation to address the inequity around non-profits. “It’s sensitive politically, but hopefully it’s something we’ll be able to move on soon.”

Boland also asked about the displaced families who are occasionally placed at the Red Roof Inn on Route 9, and whether the state was looking to provide any financial relief to the town to cover the cost of the services they use. Some of the families send their kids to Southborough schools. At the cost of thousands of dollars to educate each student, “it really adds up,” Boland said.

Gregoire said the state is looking to get families out of hotels and motels for good, but admitted, “It’s a huge issue for us statewide.”

Selectwoman Bonnie Phaneuf asked the legislators about stimulus funds. “I can’t say I really understand it,” she said. “On the surface it seems like stimulus money is only helping those with state jobs.

You can read more about that exchange in this article from the Metrowest Daily News.

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carrie alpert
14 years ago

where exactly is the information, or rather the answers to the questions?Yes, we all know that educating the displaced children while they live at the Red Roof Inn costs the town thousands of dollars, what are you doing about it to get the monies back, what is the actual process you are in the midst of?

what exactly is “senstive politcally” about addressing non profits not paying taxes? and as far as the big accolades for them helping to fund, i mean, step up to pay for the ladder truck they are the institutions who need it more than anyone as they have children housed in dorms that can only be accessed by the tall ladder trucks.

They should be paying taxes, actual taxes, the kind where you get an actual bill and then you pay the bill. That money could pay for services across the board–services the non profits they themselves use and for teachers, you know, the ones that teach in the public sector?

i think the next time i get a tax on anything i am going to say “this is rather sensitive for me, i am not going to pay this and i am going to make a donation based on what i feel is politically in everyone’s best inerest” and then wink.

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