Proposed payment-in-lieu-of-taxes program spurs debate among Northampton nonprofits

Proposed payment-in-lieu-of-taxes program spurs debate among Northampton nonprofits

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One way of addressing this reduced tax base, some communities have found, is through such PILOT programs. The practice is becoming increasingly common in Massachusetts, where municipalities rely heavily on property taxes, said David Thompson, vice president of public policy at the National Council of Nonprofits in Washington.

Boston, which introduced a PILOT program in 2011, took in nearly $28 million through such contributions in fiscal 2015, according to city data.

Mayors who are “desperate for money” often characterize the initiative as a matter of fairness — a way nonprofits can team up with the government to address budget issues, Thompson said.

But to him, the program is nothing more than municipal bullying. “It’s not collaborative at all,” he said. “It’s always rammed down nonprofits’ throats.”

Thompson added that demonizing nonprofits for refusing to pay, as is often done, is unfair because much of the value such institutions contribute is intangible.

“It’s hard to put a price tag on reducing community hatred or improving community engagement,” he said, citing, for instance, the work the YMCA does nationwide to keep young people out of gangs.

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Daily Hampshire Gazette

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