Taxing the economic engine: higher education vs. 'the town'

Stefanie Botelho's picture

Municipal authorities make valid arguments to support these demands. They point to the percentage of taxable land taken off the tax rolls by higher education institutions. They note additional burdens on police, fire and first responder calls. City officials differentiate further by "type of use" among facilities and college owned properties and land.

Further, in many instances the request for new taxes-typically called PILOT's (or "payments-in-lieu-of-taxes") extends increasingly to public as well as private higher education. Interestingly, these requests do not typically encompass basic education or other nonprofit groups like churches.

Historically, college and university officials have argued that, like basic education, higher education performs a public service. In the case of private colleges and universities, these institutions educate students who would otherwise be placed in public colleges and universities at significantly greater cost to the taxpayer.

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