As you’ve probably heard, Southborough selectmen have been making a push lately to convince tax-exempt nonprofits in town like St. Mark’s and Fay School to increase the amount of their voluntary payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) contributions. Selectman John Rooney said this week that the effort is not limited to just the educational institutions. Later this month he intends to ask Southborough’s churches to increase their PILOT contributions, as well.
Southborough is home to seven religious institutions, and as nonprofits, none of them pay taxes on the property they own. Only one of the institutions, the L’Abri Fellowship, makes a PILOT contribution. They donate $500 annually.
Rooney said in a presentation to the Board of Selectmen on Tuesday that the religious institutions consume town services like fire and police, just like St. Mark’s, Fay School, and the other educational institutions do.
“It has nothing to do with faith issues,” Rooney said. “It has to do with fairness.”
Although he doesn’t expect the response to be “favorable,” Rooney said he will ask each of the religious institutions to contribute a “nominal, good faith donation” of $10K annually.
In his presentation on Tuesday, Rooney detailed how much each religious institution consumes in town services and how much revenue the town loses each year on property they own. In addition to police and fire services, the town also provides free snow plowing to many of the churches in town.
According to Rooney’s calculations, the total annual tax exemption for St. Matthew’s and St. Anne’s is $69K combined. For Pilgrim Church it is $38K, for St. Mark’s Church $55K, and for First Community $14K. The annual tax exemption for the Chinese Gospel Church and L’Abri Fellowship is estimated at $63K each.
The total tax exemption for all of the religious institutions is just over $300K annually.
After the meeting, Selectman Bill Boland point out that some of the religious institutions are increasing their holdings in town. He said St. Anne’s Church has purchased two residential properties on Walker Street in the past few years.
No word from any of the churches on their plans for PILOT contributions.
If you’d like to see Rooney’s tax exemption calculations for yourself, they’re in his presentation here. It’s a large file (2.7MB) so download may take a bit.