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Pittsfield May Seek Revenues from Tax-Exempt Companies

The City of Pittsfield is in the process of forming a committee to explore a Payments in Lieu of Taxes – or PILOT – program – aimed at local non-profits, in order to possibly generate additional revenues for city services.

The city’s new PILOT task force follows an example set by the city of Boston in 2010, where a citywide PILOT program was recommended. In 2011, Boston took the panel’s recommendation and began collecting revenues from tax-exempt organizations

Michael Supranowicz is President and CEO of the Berkshire Chamber of Commerce, which manages its own Nonprofit Business Network. Supranowicz said that the possibility of local PILOT programs have been on the minds of area non-profits in recent years.

Supranowicz, who said he has communicated with city officials on Pittsfield’s PILOT task force, said that non-profits in the city and Berkshire County as a whole make up a large portion of the local economy.

Supranowicz also added that in Pittsfield, many of the properties that aren’t taxed in addition to 501 c3 charitable organizations are churches, state and federal buildings. But he also said that a fine balance must be found between the revenues city residents and commercial businesses pay, and how everyone benefits from city services.

Last week in Holyoke, Mayor Alex Morse sent a letter to the recently opened Massachusetts Green High Performance Computing Center requesting that 25% of the city’s existing commercial tax rate to be paid to the city for services. 

While Pittsfield’s PILOT task force is still being formed and has not yet produced any recommendations, Mayor Bianchi said he’s eager to see what will come out of it.

Lucas Willard is a news reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011. He produces and hosts The Best of Our Knowledge and WAMC Listening Party.
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