|Callahan with LU's Women's Basketball Team Last Week|
PILOT Contributions to Cities Throughout Pennsylvania
|2011 gf |
|% of revenues|
ranked 10 of 12
|beth at ave.||$678,969|
|beth. at median||$565,626|
According to a study done by Public Financial Management, Inc., most colleges recognize a moral, if not legal, obligation to support their municipalities. Franklin and Marshall, for example, contributes 0.35% of its assessed value annually to Lancaster. In addition, it maintains for Buchanan Park. Alvernia, Albright, Kings and Wilkes University all make annual contributions on a voluntary basis, ranging from 0.05% to 0.28%. Widener University pays Chester annually for the cost of two police officers.
But Lehigh University, which has an assessed value in Northampton County estimated at over $204 million, pays nothing.
While making no contributions,tax exempt entities like Lehigh have benefited from City Services, as indicated by the fire calls made in 2011.
|exempt entity||fire calls||service |
|bethlehem housing |
In addition to fire calls, there are other services provided, from street cleaning to police protection.
Maybe Lehigh should be billed for municipal services, a la carte. After all, it sits on a $1.1 billion endowment. At the same time, senior citizens on fixed incomes struggle to pay real estate tax dollars into the City so that Bethlehem firefighters can respond to the university's false alarms.
Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan thinks it's time for that to change.
Moravian and Northampton Community College, with much smaller endowments than Lehigh University, have informally expressed a willingness to help. So have medical institutions, in the form of in-kind services. But while benefiting from the revitalization of the City's south side, Lehigh University has dragged its feet for the past 6 years on voluntary participation in any PILOT program.
Although acknowledging he lacks the power to force Lehigh to make any contribution, Callahan believes he can persuade them. "I'm going to shame them into it," he stated, noting that it is ridiculous for an entity that takes up 20% of the City's land mass to provide nothing, while smaller schools like Moravian and Northampton Community College are stepping up to the plate despite their own financial troubles.
Like Bethlehem, both Easton and Allentown have received next to nothing from the colleges and exempt institutions inside their borders.