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.