Lowell, UMass Lowell sign master agreement
UMass Lowell and the city of Lowell signed a historic master agreement that spells out the financial relationship between the municipality and its largest tax-exempt landholder.
The deal commits the university to make $8 million in voluntary payments to the city over the next 20 years for a wide variety of projects and to handle snow removal and landscape maintenance on city property near the school.
The agreement also commits UMass Lowell to pay the city something akin to meals and hotel occupancy taxes, but they’re called fees instead. The meals fee is .75 percent of any sales at retail food outlets on campus and the hotel occupancy fee is 6 percent of the room rate at UMass Lowell’s Inn and Conference Center.
In short, the deal resolves a thorny issue that plagues many municipalities — how to treat tax-exempt institutions that consume many city services but are under no obligation to pay for them.
City Manager Kevin Murphy said at the time that he felt blindsided by the purchase. “It’s a devastating thing,” he said. “It’s a slap in the face to the so-called partnership we had.”
Rep. Robert Nangle of Lowell began pushing legislation that would require nonprofits to pony up money to their towns. A bill he filed last year required nonprofits to pay property taxes on a sliding scale if their top five employees earn more than $2.5 million a year. The nonprofits would pay 100 percent of their assessed property taxes in the first year, 75 percent in the second, 50 percent in the third, and 25 percent thereafter.
On Tuesday, Murphy hailed the “first-of-a-kind” formal agreement with the university and Nangle said he hoped it would become a model for nonprofits across the Commonwealth.
UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacquie Moloney also praised the deal. “This city always stands together,” she said. “At the end of the day, we always find the common ground, the right path forward to find these mutually beneficial partnerships.”
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Nicolette Smith, an employee at the Department of Public Health, which regulates medical marijuana facilities, is applying for a license to sell medical marijuana. (Boston Herald)
Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr documents how Gov. Charlie Baker’s latest judicial appointee, a Swampscott neighbor, has a penchant for contributing money to whomever occupies the corner office at the State House.
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Cambridge approves home-sharing regulations that require owners to live in or adjacent to the buildings they are renting out. (State House News)
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Boston Herald columnist Joe Battenfeld reports US Senate candidate Geoff Diehl is saying he won’t raise questions about Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s ancestry during the campaign — he’ll leave that to others.
The Boston Globe’s technology columnist, Hiawatha Bray, is uneasy with one of the world’s top information providers (Google) firing an employee for speaking his mind.
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