Harp Not Anxious To Tax Hospital

Paul Bass Photo New Haven may win the right to tax Yale-New Haven Hospital’s real estate, but Mayor Toni Harp isn’t so sure New Haven should take up the offer.

In his new budget proposal, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy proposed allowing cities like New Haven to tax the real estate of not-for-profit hospitals like Yale-New Haven.

At first glance, that would provide a windfall for the city. Mayor Harp said Monday the city would be able to collect $33.8 million a year in taxes if Yale-New Haven’s $1.3 billion in exempt property comes onto the rolls.

That money would particularly come in handy if a second part of the governor’s proposed budget passes: a new requirement that cities and town pay a third of the cost of teacher pensions. That would hit New Haven with a $14 million new burden, Harp estimated.

But the governor’s proposals were just the opening round of budget negotiations that will last through the spring. The final reckoning — including how to patch a $1.7 billion projected deficit while also responding to a judge’s order to fund schools more fairly — is expected to look far different.

In the meantime, Harp argued that the hospital-taxing idea might not work out as envisioned.

For starters, she argued, it depends on the hospitals being able to recoup the lost money through new Medicaid reimbursements from the federal government. Harp predicted that, especially given the stated determination of Republicans in Washington to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, that money may never materialize.

“I think it’s precarious,” Harp said during an appearance on WNHH radio’s “Mayor Monday” program. “It might be something that would be very difficult for us to hang our hat on. If we had a different administration in Washington, perhaps. But even there, I’m not really sure that given the way that the state already taxes hospitals, that we can make an argument that it would be prudent to tax them even more.”

Harp said she prefers a proposal advanced by the advocacy group Connecticut Voices for Children. It would institute a statewide property tax from which proceeds would fully fund the Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) program that reimburses cities for revenues lost on tax-exempt state, university and hospital properties. New Haven currently receives less than 40 percent reimbursement under that program, Harp said. Under full PILOT funding (which would amount to 70 percent reimbursement), the city would collect another $95 million a year, she estimated.

Hospitals statewide, including Yale-New Haven, have vowed to fight Malloy’s proposal, saying the state already taxes them enough. Yale-New Haven’s group of four hospitals pays over $200 million a year in state taxes, according to Vice-President Vin Petrini. He called the idea of adding new taxes “a non-starter.” (Click here to read a CT Mirror story detailing the proposal and the statewide reactions.)

Gov. Malloy has for years argued that hospitals like Yale-New Haven can well afford to pony up more money to budget-strapped governments; in its tax return for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2015, Yale-New Haven reported earning $138.56 million more in revenues than it spent. Petrini Monday said that money gets reinvested in new equipment, recruitment of physicians and creation of new jobs. He said that the state has been progressively squeezing hospitals on reimbursements for care for the poor: Whereas Yale-New Haven used to receive 70 cents on the dollar back for Medicaid services, the state has cut the figure to 35 cents — even as eligibility for Medicaid has expanded under the Affordable Care Act.

Niko Redux

Also on “Mayor Monday,” Harp said she believes city public works crews did a good job clearing the streets after last Thursday’s 14-inch snowstorm. More people than ever have been getting the message about moving their cars from the odd sides of residential streets so plows can get through, for instance. She noted that public works crews worked double shifts, and were able to continue picking up trash on schedule in addition to plowing the streets.

People defying the odd-side parking ban made it impossible to clear some narrow streets, especially in East Rock and the Hill. Harp suggested that the city might flyer those streets when the next storm hits warning drivers that their cars will be tagged and towed unless they’re moved. (The city tagged and towed 268 cars Thursday night into Friday morning.) Harp also said crews may have gotten to a few spots, like Chapel Street, too late to remove an initial layer of packed, slippery snow. Overall, though, she said, she’s pleased with her team’s response to Winter Storm Niko, and looks forward to continuing to make improvements.

 

Click on or download the above audio file to hear the full episode of WNHH radio’s “Mayor Monday.”

The episode of was made possible with the support of Gateway Community College and Berchem, Moses & Devlin, P.C.

Following is a status report on bills of particular interest to New Haven before the state legislature this session:

The 2017 Agenda

Bill #StatusSummarySponsors
SB11/ HB5539Committee DeniedWould legalize, tax recreational use of marijuana.Candelaria
Dillon
Lemar
Walker
Porter
et al
SB 17Committee ApprovedWould make certain undocumented immigrant students (DREAMers) eligible for state college financial aid.Looney
HB 5434Committee ApprovedWould have CT join with other states to elect the President based on popular, rather than Electoral College, vote.Winfield,
Porter
Albis
Elliott
D'Agostino
et al.
HB 5458, HB 6058Committee ApprovedWould establish electronic tolls on state highways.Genga
HB 5575/HB 7126Passed SenateWould regulate companies such as Uber and Lyft.Scanlon
HB 5589Passed HouseWould expand disclosure requirements for contributions to campaign funds.Dillon
Lemar
D'Agostino
Elliott
et al.
HB 5591Passed HouseWould require equal pay for employees doing comparable work.Dillon
Walker
Lemar
Albis
D'Agostino
Elliott
et al.
HB 5703Committee DeniedWould have CT enter into an agreement with other states to limit "poaching" of each other's businesses.Lemar
HJ 13/HJr 95Passed HouseWould amend the state constitution to permit early voting.Lemar
HJ 16In CommiteeWould amend the state constitution to permit absentee voting for all voters.Lemar
SB 1/HB 6212Committee ApprovedWould require employers to provide paid family and medical leave for their employees.Looney
SB 2Committee ApprovedWould make the education funding formula more equitable.Duff
SB 8Committee DeniedWould allow municipalities to adopt a 0.5% sales tax.Looney
SB 10/HB 5743Passed SenateWould strengthen hate crime laws.Winfield
SB 13/HB 6208/HB 6456Committee ApprovedWould increase the minimum wage.Looney
Winfield
et al.
Albis
Candelaria
D'Agostino
Elliott
Lemar
Paolillo
Porter
Walker
SB 137Committee DeniedWould expand birth-to-three and provide universal pre-school, among other things.Gerratana
SJ 5/HJ 1Passed HouseWould amend the state constitution to create a "lock-box" for transportation funding.Duff
HB 5588Committee DeniedWould limit certain bond allocations.Dillon
Lemar
Albis
Walker
Elliott
et al.
HB 5912HB 6127Committee DeniedWould establish a 1-cent/ounce tax on sugared beverages.Lemar
Elliott
et al.
HB 6554Committee DeniedWould tax carried interest as ordinary income.Porter
Albis
Lemar
Elliott
Winfield
Candelaria
Dillon
D'Agostino
et al.
HB 5831Committee DeniedWould provide bonding for transitional housing for NH female ex- offenders.Porter
Candelaria
Lemar
Winfield
Looney
Paolillo
SB 631Committee DeniedWould provide bonding to make structural improvements to the Shubert Theatre.Winfield
Looney
Walker
Porter
Lemar
Candelaria
Paolillo
HB 6863Committee DeniedWould authorize bonds for renovating the Barbell Club as a youth/ community center.Canelaria
Porter
Paolillo
Lemar
Winfield
SB 649Committee ApprovedWould allow local building officials to impose fines for building w/o a permit.Looney
Winfield
Walker
Candelaria
Lemar
Porter
Paolillo
Et al.
SB 590/591Committee DeniedWould limit police ccoperation w/Immigration and Customs Enforcement (590); establish an immigrant's bill of rightsWinfield
SB 20Committee DeniedWould require affordability to be considered in reviewing proposed health insurance rate hikes.Looney
HB 6352Committee ApprovedWould establish a deposit system for car tires.Ritter
Gresko
McCrory
HB 6901Committee DeniedWould impose a surtax on large employers that pay an average wage less than $15/hour.Elliott
HB 7278Passed SenateWould convey various parcels to New Haven, among other things.Gov't Administration and Elections

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posted by: Bill Saunders on February 13, 2017  6:06pm

The way Hospital Expansion is affecting the real estate values in Dwight/West River Neighborhood, she better f’n tax the hospital….

posted by: jim1 on February 13, 2017  6:37pm

Of course, tax the hospital….and the university.  This is Toni’s last term,  gotta be.

Where is the city gonna get a frigging dime?  Show me the money.

If she raises taxes, expect riots.

She most not miss the opportunity to tax Yale

posted by: ILivehere on February 13, 2017  9:11pm

we need to tax them or find a mayor who will.

posted by: Bill Saunders on February 13, 2017  11:38pm

So, I am in the middle of compiling my DWIGHT STREET REPORT on the 2016 Reval.

Here is the most glaring ‘inconsistency’ I have noticed so far…...

On the lower Block of Dwight Street, between George and North Frontage Rd, land values are increasing by 175% across the board…..this happens to be the block where I live.

On the Blocks between Edgewood and George, land values are decreasing by 16%, pretty much across the board.

hmmmmmmmmm…...I am sorry, but the Hospital Developers dreams really do nothing to improve the quality of my life in my neighborhood, but somehow, I have to pay for that…..

Frankly, the revaluation is so inconsistent in how people are taxed per acre and square footage, that we should really consider a Class Action Lawsuit….

posted by: Noteworthy on February 14, 2017  9:43am

Double Speak Notes:

1. Mayor Harp says she doesn’t want to tax hospitals. That’s probably because it’s a local option, not a demand.

2. However, Harp does want to raise the property taxes of all the rest of us via a state-wide property tax. So just like we have two taxes on gasoline and heating oil, now we’ll get two property tax bills - one from the state and one from the city.

3. This of course, is to fund the myriad of grants, namely PILOT and all the subsequent grants which are based off of that allocation at a higher level. This is a game of Whack A Mole and classic political dishonesty about the real impact on families.

4. If this passes, it will go the way of sales taxes on our homes. It will rise, the state will get its cut and the rest of it will go to the towns and cities. In its final form, state lawmakers - yes, the same ones who pose on all manner of issues expect this one - raised the temporary tax and made it permanent. All the pols will be happy because they got a new tax line under which they have unlimited ability to raise it, or, as New Haven does - just wait for reval and blame it on that nightmare.

posted by: loki on February 14, 2017  10:19am

Tax the hospital! Why should anyone pay any taxes if the billion dollar corporation known as the hospital doesn’t pay taxes?

posted by: robn on February 14, 2017  10:48am

I voted NO for this reason…

New Haven’s target should be the state, not Yale University or Yale New Haven Hospital.

Long ago the State of Connecticut created tax exemptions for non-profit institutions that were thought to be in service to the public good. When these exemptions were created, the public good was clearly thought to be a local good because this was far prior to the globalization of education and far prior to convenient transportation that allows remote people quick access to urban hospitals. The societal benefits of these institutions are now distributed far beyond the city itself. Therefore the exemption is an anachronism created by the state. Paired with de-industrialization, the mid-20th century abandonment of county taxation and associated white flight to suburbs, the exemption has eviscerated New Haven’s tax base.

The exemption has a logic but since the majority of benefits are no longer local, the majority of cost should no longer be borne a locality. The state should pay for the exemption since its a creation of the state. FULL PILOT!

posted by: brownetowne on February 14, 2017  1:43pm

Noteworthy: I thought home heating oil was tax exempt in CT.  How are there two taxes on it?

posted by: jim1 on February 14, 2017  2:03pm

Robyn, you are seriously wrong and if my taxes go up I want you to pay them.

As far as state $$, I suggest you hang out in Hartford.

posted by: Bill Saunders on February 14, 2017  3:51pm

Jim1

Robn is being an intellectual martyr.  His assessment rose by 35%.

posted by: robn on February 14, 2017  4:18pm

BS,

Not just an intellectual exercise. Legislative intent is at the core of how any law is applied and in this case, critics of the exemption haven’t questioned the intent of the original law; rather they’ve focussed their criticism on the deep pockets nearby.

The bill proposed in this article is a red herring. The ultimate affect of the bill is that nobody takes any action because it puts them at a competitive disadvantage with other municipalities who will compete for the institutions. Don’t think it can happen? Behold the Bayer complex in West Haven, now occupied by Yale University.

posted by: vpaul on February 15, 2017  11:41am

This is hilarious. In the alternate universe of the professional politician, “full funding” [of the PILOT program] means 70%. How about “full” meaning 100%, as it does on this planet? Especially since the Mayor was talking about a Statewide property tax, a major change.

It’s about time the State considered authorizing municipalities, at least large ones, to impose their own sales tax to give some relief to besieged real property owners.