Alders Call For Full PILOT

With one voice, the Board of Alders called on the governor and state legislature to send New Haven all the money required by law.

Alders did that by voting unanimously Monday night to approve a resolution calling on the state to fully fund payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT), the money the state is required by law to reimburse cites for non-taxable land owned by hospitals and universities. The state has underfunded PILOT for years, hurting cities like New Haven that can’t tax much of its grand list.

Not only did the entire board vote to approve the resolution Monday; all the alders also signed on as co-sponsors. The resolution also calls for hearings on the low PILOT reimbursements and how they affect the city.

The non-binding resolution was first proposed by freshman Alder Mike Stratton (pictured), who represents Newhallville and Prospect Hill. Stratton has personally hired a lobbyist to help convince the legislature to increase PILOT to New Haven.

The resolution that passed Monday is a revised version of Stratton’s original draft. The revised version is shorter and less confrontational.

Click here to read Stratton’s original language.

Click here to read the approved final version.

Here’s an example of a paragraph that appeared in the original resolution, not the final one:

“[T]he State now tries to make up for a decade of increasingly devastating annual cuts to PILOT by granting the city funds for special projects that the State thinks are needed which thereby undermines the democratic process and creates policy and programs without deliberation or consensus by the city’s legislative and executive branches based on local priorities ...”

Here’s another excised argument:

“[W]hereas the current property tax system without full statutory PILOT leads to a bizarre and unsustainable result, in that when New Haven based non profits expand to provide more necessary and desirable benefits to the region, it is an unwelcome event in the city in that it poses with each such expansion a contraction of our revenue stream and threatens our ability to operate the city ...”

This came out, too:

“[T]here is the overwhelming opinion among New Haven residents that it is unfair, inequitable and even immoral that tax exempt institutions not only do not pay taxes, but that the state does not honor its commitment to fully fund PILOT funds promised the city to compensate the city for loss of this urgently needed tax revenue ... [T]here are no taxes paid to New Haven by any of the workers who live outside New Haven and who claim 81% of the jobs paying a liveable wage in New Haven, nor are any taxes paid by those who live outside New Haven but who regularly and in large volume utilize city non profits ...”

This stayed in, with slightly changed wording:

“[T]he majority of vital services provided to the most needy in the region are borne at the expense of New Haven taxpayers.”

Stratton Monday night gave a short speech on the proposal. New Haven is the reason the region around the city is prosperous, he said. Yet that region doesn’t pay its fair share, he said.

“They duped us!” Stratton said. The state doesn’t pay the full PILOT, then acts like it’s being charitable when it funds various programs in New Haven.

“We don’t need charity,” Stratton said. “We need what is owed.”

He said New Haven is “unjustly oppressed” by the state.

Darryl Brackeen, Upper Westville’s freshman alder, struck a more conciliatory tone.

“This is an item for consensus, not aggression,” he said. The city can work with the state to fix the problem, he said. “Through collaboration we can get this done.”

By state law, the state is supposed to reimburse the city at a rate of 77 percent of the property taxes the city would receive from land belonging to university and hospital properties, and 45 percent for state-owned buildings.

In recent years, however, the state has not even come close to hitting the 77 percent mark. Most recently, according to Stratton, the state paid only 32 percent for college and hospital properties and 23 percent for state properties.

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posted by: P Christopher Ozyck on February 4, 2014  10:18am

As goes the corner - so goes the neighborhood, as goes the neighborhood so goes the City, as goes the city so goes the region , as goes the region… The State shrugs .

posted by: Brian V on February 4, 2014  11:14am

I can’t remember being so happy with the BOA, ever.
I even understand feeling the need to tone it down a bit, even though everything in the original is true.
Thanks again Mr Stratton and the whole BOA.

posted by: PH on February 4, 2014  11:25am

I’d like to see this message pushed to our Congressional delegation as well.  The cities are the core of the Democratic vote in this state, at all levels, and this is a statewide issue for cities.  Even though PILOT is a state law, having our Congressional delegations on board to help push our state legislature would be good.  This may be the single most important issue for ensuring the continued vitality of Connecticut’s cities.

posted by: Walt on February 4, 2014  12:02pm


The Alders would also welcome any funding from the feds, foundations, other Towns or Cities,  foreign nations or any loaded folk who would like to donate for any of its needs

posted by: DavidK on February 4, 2014  1:56pm

As Michel would put it “for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my ” City and BOA. .

posted by: FacChec on February 4, 2014  4:09pm

The municipal advocacy group CCM; is way out in front of the BOA on this subject, but is unlikely to have any greater impact on the Governor and the appropriations committee(s) then the local BOA.

The governor is projecting a 5M surplus this year but is unlikely to apply any surplus funds to pilot.

Harp, if anyone should know that if an appropriation does not increase the grant, we should not expect more monies next year. BTW, just this budget year the state increased the Education Cost Sharing by $4.087M, the school transportation by $1.217K, the Pequot- Mohegan grant by $527K, the Colleges & Hospitals by $3.281M, and state owned property $601K. The total increase for New Haven this year is $6.066M.

Be careful what you ask for BOA, you could receive less.

posted by: Mike Slattery on February 4, 2014  9:57pm

I couldn’t agree more with the sentiment that this system is unsustainable.

PILOT isn’t charity or a donation.  We’ve already accepted 70-someodd cents on the dollar (and less) in return for not taxing certain parcels, because we see value in state and non-profit enterprises here.  We simply want that due value to come to us in the same manner surrounding towns get it: revenue, not primarily in the form of grants that have strings.  We have grants funding key employees of our city departments, and entire wings of quasi government, and the terms aren’t lengthy.  I’d rather we decide what to do with the revenue that belongs to us.

We have had residents, administrators and elected officials working tirelessly to make up the balance in terms of funding for programs, etc and they deserve a lot of credit.  But why should we have to fight over and over again for the same 70 cents that should be built into the state budget in the first place?  Imagine what these talented people could do for us with the time saved.

It is true that the larger non-profits do great things that might not be possible if they were taxed.  That same freedom to apply funds to problems might also be ours if we advocate for it.

posted by: NewHavenTaxTooHigh on February 5, 2014  1:57am

Seems to me that if “by state law, the state is supposed to reimburse the city at a rate of 77 percent ... from land belonging to university and hospital properties, and 45 percent for state-owned buildings” then why not seek relief through the courts by having the city and/or some residents file suit against the State for not following the law?

posted by: Honest in New Haven on February 5, 2014  8:34am

Go BOA!  Nice political theater.  Otherwise, an unrealistic and useless action.