So I read this article where it predicts doom and gloom because 40% of the properties in the City of Providence, Rhode Island are non-profit and therefore not subject to property tax. It includes schools, hospitals, civic organizations and churches.
Now the theory behind the whole non-profit thing is interesting. It was done to encourage those institutions to get a leg up. It was not intended for it to remain in place. This is particularly true of the hospitals and schools hereby known as meds and eds. They may still fly with non-profit but they’re making money hand over fist.
But here in Providence you have Johnson & Wales, my alma mater making threats that they’ll relocate the whole kit and kaboodle to one of the other four cities they have a campus in, and even allude to the fact that Charlotte made an offer and they refused. Thing is, the eds while for example Brown University complains that its endowment suffered from the stock market thing. Yadda yadda. You’re still making money and building all over the east side of the city.
And the hospitals – dear god the hospitals. Just near me there’s Roger Williams, VA and then the big complex with RI Hospital, Women and Infants, Hasbro Childrens. And need I mention RI Hospital is also a Level 1 trauma center. Ok, all well and good.
And the churches – there’s a church every couple of blocks.
The article in the link above also mentions that this problem isn’t just one we’re seeing here in Providence.
Now I’ll offer my solution. Stop with the Payment in Lieu of Taxes or PILOT. Stop with mayors always going begging to the meds and eds. Instead why not tax them on the property regardless if it’s used for educational purposes or medical or church or not. Do it at a reduced rate. Right now the maximum rate is $36.75 per thousand. Why not start with the schools, charge them half that or $18.38. For medical let’s say $10 per thousand, and I’ll be graceful and say the churches pay $5. Just doing that would raise a whole lot of money.