Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Can government compete fairly?
UPDATE: 3:30 PM: I have only been doing PR for 25 years but does anybody else find it odd that Umass News Info Department (that I believe has three full-time spinmeisters and a Department Manager) only puts out the press release about the $9.2 million renovation project on the very day construction starts?
What the Umass flacks wrote
(Original Post 6:00 AM) So Umass can spend $9.2 million tax dollars to better hustle for costumers private dollars? Unlike the Campus Center Hotel, those new and modern hotels that have popped up along Route 9, courtesy of Hampshire Hospitality Group, pay property taxes to the host town.
And in the People’s Republic of Amherst, if you simply construct a commercial enterprise valued at $9 million it would pay Amherst $135,000 annually in property tax plus the 4% Local Option Room Occupancy Tax on gross annual revenues.
Simply being owned by a tax-exempt does not necessarily keep the business off the tax rolls. Take Amherst College for instance: they own the apparently only profitable golf business in town, Amherst Golf Course, and pay Amherst the normal $7,000 per year in tax that a private, for-profit owner would pay.
And they own the historic Lord Jeffery Inn that not only pays property taxes ($32,000) but also honors the local room tax. They too are feeling the pressure from new modern hotels along Rout 9--as evidenced by their upcoming $20 million expansion--but at least they compete on a level playing field...well sort of, having over a billion in reserves is a tiny advantage.
Back in 2003 a ‘Special Committee to Recommend Mitigation for Local Aid Cuts’, chaired by State Senator Stan Rosenberg, an indefatigable Umass supporter clearly stated:
“Eliminate UMASS Amherst Campus Center's exemption from hotel motel tax (that tax doesn't cost the state anything, doesn't cost the university anything, shouldn't be an edge in competition against local hotels / motels). This could be a significant ($70,000+) help to Amherst.”
Since the Town Manager was already taken to the cleaners by Umass with their ‘Strategic Agreement’, The Select Board should appoint a “Blue Ribbon Committee” (better yet, an Attack Dog) to pursue this potential pot of tax gold.
Springfield Republican Reports (scooping the Gazette)