Progress on P.I.L.O.Ts Monday Evening

Just a note that there’s an important presentation to the Board of Selectmen tomorrow night (Sept. 14) at 7:45pm regarding the Town’s tentative plans to seek Payment in lieu of Taxes (P.I.L.O.T) agreements from the many, large non profits that are located in Belmont.

This is an issue that’s come up before — most recently at the Spring Town Meeting, where The Selectment on Belmont Hill School to negotiate a P.I.L.O.T agreement with the town. The argument for tabling the motion was that the town wanted to develop a uniform standard and formula for P.I.L.O.T payments that it could use with all its non profits — Belmont Hill, Belmont Day, McClean, the Lion’s Club, and so on. This would avoid the impression (as with the motion on Belmont Hill) that the town is picking on a particular institution or being arbitrary in its negotiations.

Now it looks like there’s some progress on this issue: the Board of Assessors will be making a presentation to the Board of Selectmen tomorrow evening (Monday) at 7:45 to outline its proposal. I’ve had the opportunity to speak with Charlie Laverty, Chairman of the Board of Assessors, about the plan. While I’ll leave the details to them, suffice it to say that the Board has arrived at a forumla that tries to recoup some of the costs the town bears supporting its many non-profits, namely: roads and, in some cases, property taxes on the land they occupy. That last one has become a particular sticking point with Belmont Hill School, which has quietly been buying up adjoining residential properties in recent years, taking tens- or hundreds of thousands of dollars in property tax revenue off Belmont’s books. I’ll have more details from this meeting, but with the challenges facing Belmont’s budget, t his is low hanging fruit. At the same time, one of the town’s long standing PILOT’s, with McClean Hospital, is set to expire, putting more pressure on the town to make sure its recouping any money spent on non- tax paying entities in town, while still supporting these important institutions and helping them to carry out their mission. Of course, NPOs are under no obligation to enter into PILOT agreements with the communities where they live. On the other hand, most NPOs do have an interest in fostering good relations with the communities in which they live. We’ll see what the Selectmen make of the Board of Assessor’s proposal and, beyond that, what response the Town receives from the various NPOs that operate within its borders.