Crazy Idea bubbles up at Town Meeting

Paul here at Town Meeting. Things are just getting going — new members have been sworn in and Mr. Widmer, the Moderator, is reviewing the ground rules. There are a ton of issues to discuss — over 30. So many, in fact, that there’s some confusion over which order we’ll discuss them. One that caught my eye in the Warrant for the meeting, however, harkened back to one of the crazy ideas that B2 floated in 2008, namely: PILOT agreements. These are Payment in Lieu of Taxes agreements that towns can hammer out with large nonprofits. Belmont’s got a couple — both the McClean Hospital and the Belmont Hill School. PILOTs are not mandated and are at the discretion of non profits to agree to. Belmont has had PILOTs in the past with McLean in the past and has been mulling an agreement with Belmont Hill and the issue has been bubbling under the surface for a number of years, as Belmont Hill has quietly bought up homes and other property adjacent to its campus, taking those properties off the tax roles. Now the fiscal crisis has brought it into the forefront and tonight Town Meeting will vote on a decree calling on Belmont Hill School to negotiate with the town on a PILOT agreement to repay Belmont for the maintenance of streets infrastructure around the school, as well as for property taken off the town’s tax roles. Stay tuned.