The city says the university should shoulder more of its huge budget shortfall. 

You know what they say about the road to hell? Well, Brown University may be getting a close look at all that pavement the hard way.

Providence has asked Brown University, whose endowment topped $2.5 billion last year, to boost its voluntary tax payments. The University has been paying $1 million a year since 2003, when the mayor said the city was about to run out of cash. The mayor would like to up that by $4 million, to $5 million a year.*

Rhode Island is strapped for cash — the state's economy is currently trailing the national recovery, and its capital city has closed schools, renegotiated union contracts and raised property taxes to try and bridge a $110 million budget gap. Tax-exempt organizations own more than half the city's land, and the mayor says the city spends about $36 million a year on services for them.

Brown is none-too-happy about the request. As the Associated Press reports:

"The issue is how do we move beyond where we are and do something that is good for the city but not crippling for the university," Brown President Ruth Simmons said last month. "Five million dollars - that's at the level of being crippling for the university and it's completely out of scale with what universities do."

The model for this program is Boston, which this year raised $19 million in PILOT funds from Harvard University alone. And Mayor Menino would like to double the number of schools, hospitals and cultural institutions that pay in.

Without a deal, Providence's mayor says he'll seek the legislative authority to force nonprofits to make payments in lieu of taxes.

*This post initially misstated the mayor's proposed increase.

Photo courtesy Flickr user thurdl01.

 

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. photo: a high-speed train in Switzerland
    Transportation

    The Case for Portland-to-Vancouver High-Speed Rail

    At the Cascadia Rail Summit outside Seattle, a fledgling scheme to bring high-speed rail from Portland to Vancouver found an enthusiastic reception.

  2. photo: a woman on an electric scooter
    Transportation

    Why Aren’t More Women Riding Electric Scooters?

    Most users of micromobility devices like dockless scooters and e-bikes are young men. Fixing that gender gap may take more than just adding safety features.

  3. A sign outside a storefront in Buffalo, New York.
    Environment

    Will Buffalo Become a Climate Change Haven?

    The Western New York city possesses a distinct mix of weather, geography, and infrastructure that could make it a potential climate haven. But for whom?

  4. A Soviet map of London, labeled in Russian.
    Maps

    The Soviet Military Secretly Mapped the Entire World

    These intricate, curious maps were supposed to be destroyed. The ones that remain reveal a fascinating portrait of how the U.S.S.R. monitored the world.

  5. A photo-illustration of a county map of the U.S.
    Maps

    I Used This Map to Find a Happy Childhood

    I was haunted by painful memories of growing up. But when I started tracking every county I’d ever visited, I found a better way of seeing my past.

×