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Hartford Wants Non-Profits To Spare Some Serious Money

City wants non-profits who don't pay taxes to help fill budget hole

By Jeff Cohen

March 06, 2012

The city of Hartford is facing a ten percent budget deficit next year. As WNPR's Jeff Cohen reports, city officials say they may ask bigger non-profits to lend a hand...and write a check.

Hartford has billions of dollars in property. But about half of it isn't taxable, because it belongs to the state or to non-profits. That means schools, universities, hospitals, and others don't pay taxes on the land and property they own. And that means the city of Hartford is property rich, cash poor, and facing a $54 million budget hole next year.

So here's an idea. What if the city asked, really nicely, for some of those bigger non-profits to voluntarily give money to the city? A payment in-lieu of taxes?

Cohen: The trick here is that this is all, "Pretty please?" and no demanding?

Panagore: Yes, this is all voluntary.

That's David Panagore, the city's chief operating officer. He says the city is considering working with non-profits to come up with a plan to raise more money.

"Boston has had an over 80 percent compliance rate, right now it's one of the highest that I've seen. When we were in Springfield, Bay State Medical, gave $500,000 a year. And of course there's also the New Haven model with Yale. These generally work if they're done in cooperation, in conjunction with the non-profits."

Panagore says the city already gets some money from the state to help fill the void left by non-taxable property -- but it's a fraction of what it get were that property taxable. Panagore says the city would ideally like to get more like 20 to 30 percent of the money a larger non-profit would pay, if it paid taxes.

Panagore notes that some non-profits already give to the city in in-kind contributions. But he also notes they all consume city services.

The plan is it its early stages and will likely be before the city council later this month.

Reprinted with permission of Jeff Cohen, author of the blog Capital Region Report. To view other stories on this topic, search Capital Region Report at http://capitalregionreport.wordpress.com/.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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