In January of this year, I posted an article entitled, “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie,” relating to a children’s book published in 2013. The basic story line of the book is that if you give a mouse a cookie he will expect milk and other things to go with it. That story had to do with a company in Wisconsin that discovered that whatever concessions you make to a special interest group, they will not be enough. This story has to do with the tax situation in Princeton, New Jersey.
The article states:
A growing number of residents, though, resent the gestures. Riding a national wave of discontent with nonprofit institutions, they’re suing to challenge the tax-exempt status of Princeton, whose $22.7 billion endowment makes it the fourth-richest U.S. university. The outcome could cut homeowners’ annual property taxes, averaging $17,699, by a third. It also could end the freebies that make Princeton a cushy oasis while other New Jersey towns, burdened by high public-worker costs and flat state aid, struggle to maintain basic services.
There are a lot of questions that come to mind after reading this. What is the budget of Princeton, and has anyone considered cutting the budget?
The article further reports:
The university pays its hometown about $8 million in annual levies toward a proposed $61.9 million municipal budget. It kicks in another $3 million voluntarily, a boost for emergency services and public works. The rest, the freebies, make for what the school calls positive town-and-gown relations.
So the tax-exempt University already pays more than 10 percent of the municipal budget, and now the city wants to take away its tax-exempt status. It’s interesting to me that the article cites the worth of the University to support its argument. This is classic redistribution of wealth. Princeton has acquired its wealth honestly. It belongs to Princeton. Now the municipality is trying to figure a way to take what has been rightfully earned away from the entity that earned it and give it to the city, which hasn’t earned it. Maybe it’s time that the City of Princeton redid its budget rather than resorting to legal theft.