Jan 20, 2014
05:51 AM

Tensions Heighten Between Hamden and Quinnipiac University; $6 Million in Taxes?

Tensions Heighten Between Hamden and Quinnipiac University; $6 Million in Taxes?

Arnold Gold/New Haven Register

The new Crescent Residence Hall on the York Hill Campus of Quinnipiac University in Hamden on 7/27/2010.

HAMDEN--The president of the Legislative Council is urging public officials to change a law that exempts educational institutions like Quinnipiac University from paying property taxes — a law he feels is significantly outdated.

Council President James Pascarella has drafted a letter on behalf of the council to Connecticut Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey, D-Hamden, addressing his concerns.

In his letter Thursday, Pascarella cited a “deteriorating situation between the town of Hamden and Quinnipiac University.”

He said the issues range from dramatic enrollment increases prior to the construction of dormitories and utilizing the town’s emergency responders at the university’s expense, among other frustrations.

“We can no longer sustain sending our police into parties where hundreds of students are drinking, which is typical for a college setting,” Pascarella said. “But, when we have other needs in town, we’re denying the other 54,000 others of our town who do pay taxes the appropriate services at that time.”

Pascarella said his concerns surfaced after Quinnipiac University President John Lahey said he wanted to continue purchasing land on Whitney Avenue.

“Frankly, I’m unaware of any university who actively purchases one-family homes to house students,” Pascarella said.

Under the PILOT program, or payment in lieu of taxes, state payments are made to municipalities as partial compensation for the tax-exempt property of organizations such as private universities.

“Under state law, we don’t have any leverage,” Pascarella said. “We can’t walk in there (to the university) and say ‘here’s a bill.’ So, we’re looking for Hartford to help us.”

Pascarella requested the town’s finance director compile a “property assessment report,” which calculated that the university would owe the town $8 million in property taxes; when subtracted from the PILOT reimbursement, the difference is approximately $6 million.

According to the assessment report, the tax money is “in excess of 1.5 mills.”

“There are families in Hamden who are struggling with employment but are still responsible to pay their property taxes,” Pascarella said.

The university gives the town a yearly stipend of $100,000, which is dispersed to various charities.

“You’d be surprised how many people think that Quinnipiac (University) actually pays taxes,” Pascarella said.

Don Weinbach, vice president for development and alumni affairs for Quinnipiac University, said Pascarella’s issue is a “federal matter.”

Weinbach is responsible for the university’s state and federal government relations.

“I think Mr. Pascarella is misinformed about why universities are granted a tax-exempted status. It’s a federal matter, not one that can be addressed at the state legislative level. His letter should have been addressed to Rep. (John) Boehner,” Weinbach said.

See the full story at the New Haven Register online.


Tensions Heighten Between Hamden and Quinnipiac University; $6 Million in Taxes?

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