Fund Our Schools: Strengthening Boston Public Schools Campaign
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What We Are Asking:
We are parents, students, educators, workers and community members of Boston fighting for the schools our communities deserve. We are committed to working in coalition with the PILOT Action Group of ally organizations in the fields of housing, community development, healthcare and labor who are all concerned about the future of the PILOT program.
We the undersigned petition our Mayor Martin J. Walsh and City Councilors to commit to:
- Demanding that our largest and wealthiest nonprofit institutions pay their full Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) cash contributions and make plans to submit their overdue payments ($36 million from just Northeastern, BU, BC and Harvard). The City must not approve any expansion permits or Institutional Master Plans (IMPs) that give away more property tax revenue without full payment and written commitments from these institutions to our City.
- Investing some additional revenue from universities’ PILOT payments into the expansion of Hub Community Schools that provide full wraparound services, such as access to medical care, counseling, housing assistance and more.
- Creating a process to ensure that the community benefits that are given credit in the PILOT program are truly aligned to the city of Boston and BPS needs. A stakeholder citizen advisory board should be created to oversee the PILOT program.
- Providing full transparency by posting on the City’s website dollar values and descriptions of all community benefit contributions that are credited to the PILOT program.
- Undertaking a full revaluation of assessed nonprofit property values to reflect market changes over the last six years.
- Partnering with stakeholders to demand better and more robust community benefits and PILOT cash investments in housing, healthcare, youth programs and efforts to reduce economic inequality in our city.
Starting in 2012, the City implemented a new Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT), replacing a previous system with fewer guidelines. While the program increased revenues relative to its predecessor, the PILOT future as a revenue stream is shaky and rapidly declining. The City is not just a passive observer, but a key player in insisting our wealthiest neighbors contribute their fair share to meet our community’s needs, and in particular the needs of the Boston Public Schools (BPS).
The PILOT program currently asks our largest and wealthiest nonprofit organizations that occupy real estate of over $15 million in property value to contribute 25% of what they would otherwise pay in real estate taxes to the city. Under the current guidelines, up to half of that contribution can be written off for providing community benefits to residents of Boston. The other half is requested as a cash contribution.
In 2017, only 17 of 49 institutions in the PILOT program paid their full cash PILOT. Another 16 institutions (33%) contributed nothing to the program. In total the program collected only 65.5% of PILOT cash requested, down from 90% in 2012. In terms of city property values, it is the “Big 4” universities (BC, BU, Harvard and Northeastern) that are unfortunately one of the driving forces among “overdue” balances, with a combined $36 million left unpaid since 2012.
Since the inception of the 2012 program, $232 million of in-kind contributions were credited as Boston community benefits toward the institutions’ 25% PILOT obligations. However, these “benefits” may not be meeting our city’s or our neighborhoods’ most pressing needs. There is no oversight from stakeholders, no transparency in reporting, and no assurance that genuine community benefits are being provided.
Boston must be a city where all of our students can grow and thrive in a joyful, safe and engaging learning environment. We must commit to fully funding Boston Public Schools. To accomplish this, all of Boston’s businesses and neighbors must contribute.
Find Out More and Get Involved! E-mail Ruby Reyes at BostonEdJustice@gmail.com.
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