Friday, April 11, 2008

F&M NOT Paying 25% on Tax-Exempt Properties

Concerns have been raised recently as to whether Franklin & Marshall College is paying its "fair share" of taxes to the City of Lancaster.

Due to the comparatively large amount of tax-exempt property in the City of Lancaster, Mayor Rick Gray has asked city non-profit organizations to donate 25% of what their assessment would be if their holdings were taxable.

NewsLanc contacted Nancy Collins, Vice President for College Communications and Manager of Media Relations at F&M to inquire whether the College is in fact giving the requested 25% in-lieu-of-tax payments.

From Ms. Collins' communications, it appears that the College is not giving 25% of the valuation of its tax-exempt properties.

What the College is doing is giving 25% (including the cost of maintaining Buchanan Park)($142,955) of its total valuation ($562,935).

But the problem is that some of Franklin & Marshall's properties, including College Row, College Square, and the James Street properties are taxable as it is.

As Keith Cole remarked in his April 1 Letter to the Editor in the New Era, Ms. Collins appears to be neglecting the distinction between taxable properties and non-taxable properties.

NewsLanc is seeking clarification from Ms. Collins as to how much of F&M's holdings are, in fact, taxable.


Franklin & Marshall College owns property assessed for $63,824,800. At the current millage rate of 8.82, the College's total tax bill would be $562,935, if the property were taxable. We pay $98,300 of this amount. If you add this figure to the annual cost of maintaining Buchanan Park, which is $44,655, you get a total cash and direct in-kind services number of $142,955, which is 25 percent of our total tax bill of $562,935 ($98,300 divided by $562,935).

We pay this each year when we receive the city's invoice.


Nancy Collins
Vice President for College Communications
Franklin & Marshall College
P.O. Box 3003
Lancaster, PA 17604-3003
fax: 717-291-4381