To the Editor:
In my experience, when presented with a complicated situation, such as the determination of the local property tax status of various Princeton University facilities, it is often helpful to step back and reassess the situation in the current context.
In this case I am at a loss to explain why a moderately sized community should be compelled to provide a significant financial subsidy (local property tax exemption) to an already well endowed institution that provides its’ services to individuals and institutions from across the United States and around the world.
Is it right that those that provide the subsidy (local property taxpayers) are not the primary beneficiaries of the services provided by the University? Perhaps if they were a charitable organization that primarily serves the local community then it would be a different story. The community providing the subsidy would be the same as the one receiving the benefit. But this is simply not the case.
Is it right for the many families in our community with limited means to be forced to provide a subsidy to a wealthy institution? Many government tax and benefit policies include a financial means test. Why wouldn’t a means test be relevant in this situation?
I believe that the affordability of our town is at stake. It is time for us to reconsider the purpose, basis and fairness of providing property tax exemptions. It is time now to reform the laws and rules that were designed for a very different past.