Seeking volunteers for PILOT Committee

As part of a “Town Meeting Recap”, the Board of Selectmen discussed how to follow up on a non-binding Article. Article 35 asked selectmen to formally pursue annual commitments from non-profits to increased PILOT donations. Honoring the will of voters who passed an amended version, selectmen decided to reactivate the PILOT Committee.

The original committee was formed in 2009. That committee acted simply as a research tool for the Town. Rather than directly negotiating with non-profits, they collected and analyzed relevant facts to inform selectmen. Negotiations were through a follow up effort.

At this stage, selectmen are preparing to follow the same model to start. Selectman Brian Shea opined that new selectmen to be elected in May should have a say in what approach to take with the non-profits. The committee will be charged with reporting their findings in about six months. At that point, the reconstituted board will decide how to follow up.

Chair Lisa Braccio sought Selectwoman Bonnie Phaneuf’s advice based on her experience. Phaneuf represented the board on the original committee. Last night, she expressed surprise at a sudden piqued interest by the community. But she followed she was glad, since it’s overdue and needs to be done again. (Earlier this winter, Phaneuf advised the board to launch an ad hoc committee in advance of Town Meeting.)

Phaneuf appeared to be indicating a lack of interest by the community over the Town’s past efforts. She said the original committee’s 2010 report “kind of sat here for a while” and referenced a 2011 presentation by the working group that followed. 

The new committee will be modeled on the 2009-10 composition, with two additions. A member of the BOS will again serve on it. (The representative will be chosen after the May election.) The Treasurer and Assessor will also again be asked to advise in a non-voting capacity. An Advisory Committee representative will be added at the suggestion of Resident Timothe Litt. Litt reminded the board that Advisory has recently expressed a lot of concern about the issue.

To avoid an even number of members, they are upping the number of citizens-at-large from two to three. One of those seats is essentially already filled. Patricia Fiore, one of the organizers of the petition Article, had submitted papers applying to serve. Selectmen indicated they expect to appoint her.

The board plans to promote the openings and ask residents to submit applications by May 6th. The committee is being formed under the original charge:

The Pilot Committee shall develop a payment in lieu of taxes policy with the goal of encouraging tax-exempt institutions to make voluntary payments to help offset the costs of providing Town services to those institutions. While monetary payments in lieu of taxes are preferable, the Board recognizes that, in some cases, in-kind contributions and/or community partnerships may be acceptable. The Pilot Committee shall develop a methodology for valuing any such proposed in-kind contribution or community partnership.

Phaneuf recommended that the committee should reach out to every Town department to get more details on costs and benefits related to the non-profits. She said not all contributions are monetary. She gave examples of nurses stations and kitchens for uses in emergencies. And numbers quoted at Town meetings aren’t always what they appear. She gave examples of an emergency call for an ambulance with costs reimbursed by insurance or for a child that doesn’t attend the school playing on the school’s property or in their gym.

 The committee will be expected to present a report to selectmen within 180 days of appointment.

In looking at the 2010 report and past blog coverage – it appears that the original committee wrote its report in June 2010. In September, it was replaced by a “working group” at its own recommendation. 

The final report recommended:

2010 PILOT Committee report recommendationsThe Town should establish a working group to promptly prepare a formal, long-term ongoing PILOT strategy and program for the Town.

Members recommended a 5 year effort to reach individual agreements with four “major private tax exempt institutions”: Fay School, St. Mark’s School, The New England Center for Children, and the Harvard Research Center/Book Repository. (You can take a quick look at the recommendations by clicking on the thumbnail right.)

In September 2010, Susan reported on the blog:

After hearing the report, the Board of Selectmen voted unanimously to transition the PILOT committee into a working group that would initiate conversations with the tax-exempt organizations in town.

Former Selectman John Rooney represented the board on the working group. In 2011, he sought more funding from Fay and St. Mark’s and made a presentation on the topic to Representative Carolyn Dykema. From there, it’s not surprising that residents lost track of efforts. Presumably, a working group has more flexibility to meet and speak with the non-profits. But with no posted agendas and minutes, residents can’t as easily track the group’s efforts.

If you are interested in serving on the 2019 committee, click here for the volunteer form. I would recommend also following up by emailing to submit a letter and/or resume about your interest and expertise.

Updated (4/4/19 9:07 am): Fixed a spelling error pointed out by a commenter.

Updated (4/10/19 6:17 pm): Fixed the spelling of Timothe Litt’s first name.

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peaky blinders
5 years ago

For the record, it’s piqued (to excite or arouse)- not peaked (having a peak : pointed) – in reference to interest shown in PILOT payments.

And while we’re at it, in a recent obituary report it was stated that an individual was a keen fan of Nascar. That’s NASCAR, for National Association for Stock Car Racing. It’s an acronym.

Re: the 2010 report which, “sat here for a while”, it seems wholly inappropriate to assign blame to “the community”, when it was not “the community”, but rather a previous PILOT committee that created the report.

Let’s hope we are not looking forward to another “do nothing” approach.

The town looks toward the BOS to spearhead this effort. Unfortunately, even though the town has spoken through its vote at the annual town meeting, a foot-dragging BOS can serve to derail such efforts.

Have we seen this behavior before?

Elections are coming up. Be sure to vote!

The BOS and the advisory committee were both adamant about not funding the library repairs over (apparently) the “in perpetuity” language related to any historic preservation monies. Has anyone explained their objections to the library remaining a library? I didn’t hear any beyond being ‘uncomfortable’ with the aforementioned clause.

Perhaps there’s another sweetheart deal going on behind the scenes with the Burnett House/Fayville Hall developer over future use of the library? What a great location for a commercial space! That would fit in nicely with the downtown development efforts.

It appears to this reader as though the BOS is offloading PILOT work that is their responsibility onto a group of volunteers – to which the BOS can point a finger of blame if nothing comes of this (repeated) PILOT study. Again.

Why the reluctance of the part of the BOS to visit with the three large so-called non-profits and point out the issues related to their meager PILOT payments?

Another case of ‘kick the can’, as was done with the library – and ARHS opening hours, etc.

Patricia Burns Fiore
5 years ago

Although I have not heard from the BOS directly as yet, I look forward to the possibility of working on the issue as part of the PILOT Committee. I am not surprised at the interest by the community in seeking fair contributions from the multi-million dollar nonprofits in Southborough. We have expanding budgets, increased taxes and residential real estate being purchased by nonprofits (and taken off the tax rolls) – I, personally, think it is easy to understand that all members of the community should contribute to costs fairly. Please don’t denigrate the work of a committee before it has started, peaky blinders. The BOS and Advisory voted against this article (even with amendment at TM), so I think it is better to have it “offloaded” to a group including concerned taxpayers. You are correct that this is long overdue and there has not been much progress. I am hoping the “piqued” interest will help to see progress made in the near future.

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