The City Council of Lawrence, N.J. is asking nonprofits to "voluntarily" contribute 25 percent of what they would pay in property taxes, in an attempt to generate revenue for the town.
Nonprofits hold more than 90 plots of land in Lawrence Township and account for $287 million of its assessed property value, according to a report in The Times of Trenton. Two of the largest organizations in the town, Lawrenceville School and Rider University, are already making payments to the town, but those fall short of what is now requested.
If the two schools were to agree to a 25 percent contribution, Lawrenceville would have to pay more than $217,852, and Rider University would have to contribute around $141,470. They gave $35,000 and $65,000, respectively, during the last budget year.
"The time has come that we not only seek financial support from Rider University and The Lawrenceville School for voluntary contributions, but, as a matter of equity, we request a voluntary contribution from all tax-exempt organizations in Lawrence Township," said Councilman Greg Puliti in a statement announcing the plan.
While the Lawrence council's plan is voluntary, some experts believe that organizations will see the move as a threat. Linda Czipo, executive director of New Brunswick, N.J.-based Center for Nonprofits, wondered aloud to The Times what will happen when cash-strapped organizations decline to make the payments.
Lawrence is certainly not the first U.S. city to make such a request to local nonprofits. Brown University in Providence, R.I. recently agreed to double its payments to the city, and the Memphis, Tenn. City Council approved a new payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT) program in the beginning of July.
You can read the full story about Lawrence's payment request in The Times of Trenton.