Is it time for New Rochelle’s not-for-profits to pay for fire, police, and city services?
In a eye-opening Wall Street Journal article “Strapped Cities Hit Nonprofits With Fees.” published 12/27/2010, http://on.wsj.com/ew1Iav. **(The WSJ url does not work. Key word search the article’s title on the Wall Street Journal’s website.)
Non-for-profits such as colleges, churches, and charitable organizations across the country are loosing automatic tax exemptions, and are being required to pay property taxes, and for municipal services such as fire and police protection. The loss of automatic non-profit exemptions is seen as a necessary source of revenue to pay for essential city services in these tough economic times. The question that needs to be asked is, should non-profits pay for municipal services in New Rochelle?
In some municipalities, contributions for the city services non-profits use are voluntary, in others the fees are mandatory. One argument in the article makes a good point noting that if a non-profit fails to pay its utility bills, the power is shut off. Non profits understandably object to the fees but in these harsh financial times, can we as a community really afford to provide city services at no cost to these institutions?
Should New Rochelle continue to wave fees for not-for-profits who actively use city services when faced with laying off additional essential services workers? I am not sure if non-profits use the city’s refuse removal services, but I am sure that they use the police and fire department services. As an example Iona and The College of New Rochelle, are the largest industries in New Rochelle and have multi-million dollar budgets. Yet both colleges are exempt from property taxes on their primary and acquired properties, and use police and fire services. Recently, localities in Albany, NY ordinances were passed, asking schools, hospitals and other non profits to pay for city services.
With New Rochelle City Hall running out of money to pay for essential services, coupled with a reduction of funding from the state and federal level, it may be time for non-profits to pay their share for municipal services. Without viable police, fire and sanitation departments, the city will become un-livable. Students and their parents will not pay to send their children into a community that does not provide essential services.
Recognizing this national trend, we may be seeing an end to automatic exemptions for churches, schools and charities as the traditional wells of revenues run dry. Let us hope that New Rochelle’s non-for-profit leadership understand that paying for the services they use is as necessary as paying their monthly utility bills. Let’s hope they step up to protect their investments and pay their fair share for the services they use and depend on.
**Note: The Wall Street Journal link does not take you directly to the story, “Strapped Cities Hit Nonprofits With Fees.” Below are two additional links for additional reading.
1. Governments Tell Nonprofits to Pay Share - WSJ.com
mkieloch says: On today's @WSJ cover: Strapped Cities Hit Nonprofits With Fees http://on.wsj.com/ew1Iav —An endrun around #nonprofit tax exemptions? ...
tweetmeme.com/.../governments-tell-nonprofits-to-pay-share-wsjcom - Cached
2. Strapped Cities Hit Nonprofits With Fees
gabegutierrez 2 hours ago; Houston is featured in this story from WSJ.com - Strapped Cities Hit Nonprofits With Fees http://on.wsj.com/ew1Iav ...