Steering PILOT

Despite nonprofit status, universities and colleges need to make payments.

Despite nonprofit status, universities and colleges need to make payments.

The University of Pennsylvania and its hospitals may have employed the most area workers last year – 31,000 according to’s Top 100 Businesses in the Philadelphia Region report.

But the tax-exempt nonprofit, to which students pay an excess of $38,970 per year in tuition costs alone, paid the City of Philadelphia zero in payments in lieu of taxes, set aside specifically for nonprofits to determine how much they can afford to give back.

Jefferson Health System, the second highest employer at 24,600 workers in 2009, boasts full-time student tuitions between $24,103 and $32,947 per year. Jefferson’s PILOT contributions to the city last year, according to a report by the Philadelphia Daily News totaled $0.

Like its higher-tuition counterparts, Temple, which follows at fifth on the Top Businesses list just below Comcast Corp., giving jobs to some 12,900 area workers in 2009, gave no PILOT money to Philadelphia last year.

To put these numbers in perspective, Boston University, which charges students about as much as Penn, donated $4.9 million to Boston, according to a post on Philadelphia Magazine’s blog.

The numbers for Philadelphia’s nonprofits, especially these three major universities, two of which are private institutions, are abysmal. Penn, Jefferson Health System and College of Health Professions and Temple all have built-up, modern campuses and thousands of paying students, and they continue to buy property that isn’t taxed the way regular businesses are. The Temple News is concerned about where all the money is coming from and, more importantly, why some of it couldn’t go to a city that’s struggling to offer the most basic of services to its citizens, like recreation centers and libraries.

If the colleges in the city continue this way, who knows what will become of the area in 10, 15 or 20 years. Mayor Nutter has already proposed annual trash collection taxes, soda taxes and increased the city’s sales tax as solutions to a city losing thousands upon thousands of dollars more than it can make. The universities won’t have thousands of people to employ, because nobody will want to live in the city anymore or be able to afford it.

Philadelphia will slowly become a barren wasteland of decrepit, left-for-dead houses, with islands of life on North Broad Street, in Center City and in University City.

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