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Bill Requires Bryant University to Pay Local Municipality

July 17, 2013

States becoming active in not-for-profit affairs

New legislation was recently approved by the Rhode Island General Assembly that affects Bryant University, a nonprofit, tax-exempt entity. The bill, signed by Governor Chafee, requires the university to pay taxes to the local municipality to compensate the community for police and fire protection provided on campus. In many cases, the passing of such laws has been negotiated and avoided by using a PILOT or a Payment In Lieu of Taxes from the school to the community in which it is located. The PILOT has worked well in the past, satisfying both the nonprofit with the ability to make a payment, and the community for being compensated for their services.

Many universities are the, or one of the, most significant economic drivers in the local economy in which they are located, thus in some part giving back to the community they are in. The influx of students that attend the university between September – May, buy groceries and clothing from local stores, have family members that stay in local hotels and eat at local restaurants. In some cases, local universities not only pay PILOT payments but they also pay significantly higher utility bills. Some universities serve as a central facility for large events, i.e., graduation ceremonies, sporting events, conferences, etc., not to mention donations to the local community from on-campus community service groups and to local school systems.

The debate between local officials saying it is only fair that the university pays for the services it uses and Bryant University President Machtley publishing this statement noting how the university pumps almost $17 million annually into the local economy is sparking awareness and a lot of reaction from both sides. Do you think a nonprofit university should be responsible for compensating local municipalities for their services?

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