The headline reads “Providence drowns while Brown thrives.”
Providence faces a huge budget deficit and the prospect of cutting services, while its local colleges are booming. The mayor wants to extract increased payments in lieu of taxes from the nonprofit schools.
Rochester faces the same situation, except our city officials aren’t eager to make the University of Rochester pay more. If the main U of R campus, not including the medical school, were fully assessed, the college would pay more than $3 million a year. Instead, the city charges the school user fees for snow removal and other services that amounted to less than $200,000 in 2006.
The U of R’s massive economic impact tends to blunt any criticism the institution should pay more. But that massive economic impact is not exactly keeping the city afloat. When Kodak was the largest employer, the city was able to reap the benefits of the company’s building boom through property taxes. The U of R is about to build a $180 million hospital and the city won’t get a nickel. The city has to pray U of R workers buy houses in the city.
Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner got Syracuse University to cough up an extra $500,000 a year. Syracuse officials are also looking long and hard at requests for tax breaks for university-related private development. Rochester is doing the opposite.
Cities around the country are having this conversation. I think Rochester should, too.
– The news media keeps using the same pictures of George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin. Are the images prejudicial?
– It’s a tough time to be a local TV sportscaster. Fortunately, this trend hasn’t taken hold in Rochester to a large degree.