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Town to Explore Collecting from Nonprofits

New committee would look at whether tax-exempt entities will repay town for services.

For all those residents who question why entities like UConn Health Center and Miss Porter’s School need not pay taxes, the Town Council Tuesday night established a committee to explore the possibility.

The council voted 5-2, with Democrats John Vibert and Mike Demicco opposing, to set up a working committee to research how the town might seek some sort of compensation from from tax-exempt entities in town.

The idea is that while some nonprofits operate on a shoestring budget, others are billion-dollar companies, which use a considerable amount of town services. The town might inform the nonprofits of how much the essential services the town provides to them cost, and companies would be free to reimburse the town on a voluntary basis. The new committee would gather information about how other municipalities have structured similar programs and explore how Farmington might reach out to nonprofits — and to which ones.

Town Council Chairman Jeff Hogan described the process as the council doing its due diligence for taxpayers. 

“In a day and age when budgets are as tight as they are and we get razor thin at budget time, there’s an expectation from the public that we are looking at every opportunity to bring in revenue,” Hogan said.

The other Republican councilors echoed his sentiments, but Demicco and Vibert objected to the notion of trying to get revenue from nonprofits. 

“I think non-profits are considered non-profits for a reason: they don’t make a profit and there’s a contribution they make to the community. I don’t think we should be looking at those organizations as a way for us to make money, Vibert said. “They make our community better, they make our economic situation better… I don’t feel it’s right.”

The new committee will be made up of Town Councilors Patty Stoddard and Nancy Nickerson, Town Manager Kathleen Eagen, Finance Director Joe Swetcky and Economic Development Director Courtney Hendricson. 

Here's one list of some non-profits in town. 

Shawn Curtis September 12, 2012 at 10:53 AM
This is a great initiative and worth looking into. Keep an open mind and realize this is an exploratory committee to gather information - no decisions have been made or policies established. There are some great articles and examples online of where this is being done; an article by Anthony Flint in December 2010 (link to article below) mentions, "Currently, at least 117 municipalities across 18 states have PILOT programs in place; 82 of those cities and towns are in Massachusetts. Boston has one of the longest standing and most revenue-productive programs in the U.S., and Cambridge, home to MIT and Harvard, has the oldest, dating back to the 1920s. New Haven and Yale University have worked out another model program." The article goes on to mention, "....Boston's collection of $15.7 million in the 2009 fiscal year, for example, amounted to .66 percent of the total city budget that year." I think the Town Council is acting with good fiscal responsibility and exploring all options to maintain a high quality of services that makes and will make the Town of Farmington a desirable place to live, to visit and to conduct business. Article Source: http://crosscut.com/2010/12/05/urban/20423/Cities-look-nonprofits-as-cash-source/
Cornelius (Neil) Lynch September 12, 2012 at 02:42 PM
With 11 acres of land along Rte. 4 soon to be removed from the Grand List and w/the Jackson Lab and its associated demands on town services coming to Farmington, I applaud the Council's decision to look at the astonishing number of tax exempt organizations in town. I hope the committee is up to the challenge as it is no easy task with which it has been charged. Trying to measure value to the town is relatively simple when that value can be measured in nickels and dimes. Trying to do so when a subjective evaluation must be made? Whew! Good luck! There are some hot potatoes waiting to scald you.
Saul Freedman September 12, 2012 at 08:58 PM
Why did the two Democrats vote against merely establishing a committee to investigate this topic?
Paul Chotkowski September 13, 2012 at 03:15 AM
Mr. Lynch still harping on the approval of the Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? I do wonder how much [revenue] was “removed” from the town’s Grand List since 1652 on that plot of land just across from the Fire House? Or since 1871 on that lovely parcel of land just a bit further down main street? Or since 1873 on that small parcel just around the corner on Mountain Road, among others? I am certain that omitting these was simply an oversight when you listed the two most recent “removals”. I am certain that you would not be limiting the definition of “diverse population” as envisioned by the town’s Vision Statement. The apparent desire for flexibility where certain “removals” are concerned aside and in recognition of the virtual improbability of adopting an Allodial Title amendment to the town’s Charter / State’s Constitution, an investigation into some form of cash payment in lieu of property taxes based on services rendered is reasonable.
Cornelius (Neil) Lynch September 13, 2012 at 06:53 PM
Mr. Chotkowski, I don't recall the Farmington Patch being in existence in 1652 or 1871 or . . . Come to think of it, neither was I. Stop being so negative about people in your comments.

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