What's Happening with Somerville's PILOT agreements?

Update: Letter to the Mayor from the ORS PILOT Committee

ORS formed a committee in June 2017 to look into Somerville's agreements with non-profits for "Payments In Lieu Of Taxes" or PILOT.

Some of the questions we asked were: What are the existing agreements with Somerville's non-profits? When do they expire? What could be done to gain more revenue for the city in future PILOT agreements. Could negotiations for PILOT agreements yield other benefits for city residents?

Since that meeting in June, we've done some research and met three times. The focus for now is on Tufts University because its PILOT agreement with Somerville expires on June 30.

The agreement is negotiated between the Mayor and the university president. Currently Tufts pays the city $275,000 a year. Tufts signed a similar deal with Medford. We have reached out to Tufts student group, OR Medford, and to the West Somerville Neighborhood Association.

Tufts owns about $286 million dollars of tax-exempt property in Somerville. There is no standard formula for how much a non-profit must pay toward its PILOT, but if Tufts were required to pay taxes, its nontaxable property would have netted the city of Somerville $6.64 million in Fiscal Year 2014.

In Boston, a task force determined how much non-profits should pay the city. The task force recommended that all non-profits should pay 25 percent of what they would pay if they were property taxable, which includes services provided by the institutions into that percentage.

At our last meeting on Feb. 15, we decided to convene stakeholders from Somerville and Medford on March 24 to draft a platform of needs and objectives that Tufts should meet either through the PILOT or a community benefits agreement. The next planning meeting is March 1 at 5:00 PM.

Participants in the PILOT meetings have included Ian Adelman, Zac Bears (Medford), Joe Beckman, Edward Beuchert, DJ Cronin, Susan Eldridge, Penelope Jennewein, Jon Leonard, Mark Neidergang, Alex Place, Jane Regan (Cambridge), Mary Jo Rosetti, Hersh Rothmel, Luke Schaber, Marianne Walles, Rachael White, and Rand Wilson .