At Town Meeting last night, Selectman John Rooney passed along some good news. St. Mark’s School and Fay School have each agreed to donate a new police cruiser to the Southborough Police Department this year.
The donations come after Rooney, with the backing of the Board of Selectmen, launched an effort earlier this year to increase voluntary donations by non-profit institutions in town.
Southborough has 18 tax exempt organizations, including schools and churches. By state law, none of them are required to pay property taxes. Instead, they often make voluntary donations termed payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT, contributions.
Rooney said the donation of two police cruisers works out to about $75K. It’s in addition to PILOT money already contributed by the schools, including $20K annually from St. Mark’s and $10K annually from Fay School.
In a report sent to the schools in January, Rooney asked St. Mark’s to increase its annual PILOT contribution to $300K and Fay to $200K to help cover the cost of the town services they use and to compensate for the loss of tax revenue on residential property owned by the schools.
At Town Meeting last night, Rooney said the town’s efforts to solicit PILOT donations in the past have been “less than successful,” but he heralded the police cruiser donation as a step in the right direction.
“We’re making some headway in getting these tax exempts to contribute to the tax base,” Rooney said. “We’re not quite there yet….But we’re making larger than baby steps.”