June 13, 2011; Source: Syracuse.com | A full 51 percent of the property in the city of Syracuse is untaxable, being owned by nonprofits, the city, the county and the state. Altogether that property is worth $3.8 billion so the effect on the local tax base and the ability of the city to provide basic services is, of course significant.
The two largest nonprofits are Syracuse University and St. Joseph’s Hospital Health Center, both of which are acknowledged as major contributors to the economic health of the area. For this reason, Mayor Stephanie Miner says she has been thinking about how to approach the two for PILOT payments since she took office but when a contract to provide traffic control for the Carrier Dome came up for renewal between the University and the city the time was right.
Syracuse University has now stepped forward with a voluntary five-year commitment to $2.5 million and Miner is hopeful that it sets a healthy pace for others. The Lincoln Institute for Land Policy says that 100 municipalities across 18 states now collect payments in lieu of taxes or PILOTs.—Ruth McCambridge