If I've said it once I must keep repeating: nonprofit boards beware! In really difficult economic times for municipalities, counties and states, your tax exemption likes like a relief strategy.
Here's some musings in the Philadelphia Inquirer which pretty much says to universities and health care institutions, "if you can't voluntarily be more forthcoming with your PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) we the citizens should think about helping move your thinking along.
As for our hospitals and universities, they do have the option of making payments in lieu of taxes, known as PILOTs. But total contributions in Philadelphia are less than $1 million a year, with some of the major schools stiffing the city entirely.
Compare this to Boston, where 13 colleges pay the city $8.4 million a year - Boston University $4.9 million all by itself. Still, a task force established by Boston's mayor is recommending that the nonprofits contribute up to 25 percent of what they would otherwise owe in taxes.
Certainly, many of our hospitals and universities are great institutional citizens, making valuable contributions to the city in terms of jobs, their purchases of local goods and their support of the arts and other important projects. But the same can be said of many of our for-profit businesses, like Citizens Bank or PNC (where I once worked) or Aramark and many others, which are not tax-exempt and contribute mightily to the city.
The Nutter administration recently met with representatives of some of Philadelphia's nonprofit institutions and is in a fact-gathering process, according to press secretary Doug Oliver, who told me the administration wants to make sure it doesn't make decisions that "unintentionally choke the economic activity that the city needs so badly.
Nonprofit boards beware! Just because you don't see conversations like this in your local paper, it doesn't mean they aren't taking place.