The Scranton Times article today (the second in a series) about non-profits & taxation was excellent. You can find it HERE.
I detest politicians who take complex issues and "sound byte" them. That's what the whole non-profit debate in Scranton may be degrading into; rest assured that while the non-profits should be doing more, this isn't a simple issue of they need to pay up or else.
A letter to the editor in a recent edition of the Time caught my eye as well as it relates to this issue. Specifically, the writer commented on the fact that at least some of the properties taken over by the University of Scranton were probably not current on their taxes. That may or may not be true, but it again points to the fact that the issue of taxation isn't as simple as it may appear.
Speaking of simple, I've been reading a certain local message board and the posters...99% anonymous...are regularly bashing the Mayor Chris Doherty and the University of Scranton over this issue while lauding Council President Janet Evans as being some kind of hero. Do these folks realize that it's the Internal Revenue Code...not Chris Doherty...that set forth the rules that regulate the taxation of not-for-profit entities? There is nothing...zero...zip...nada...that can compel an organization designated as a 501(c)(3) to pay taxes on the property that is central to their mission. Not even Council President Evans, with her mighty powers (and ability to type thousand word letters in ALL CAPS) has that ability.
The solution here is actually pretty simple: sit down with these entities and have rational, fact-based discussions that don't involve posturing for "followers". Speaking of rational (or lack thereof), I'll continue to call Council President Evans out on her absurdly surreal behavior on this issue, but I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that the Mayor has had several years to work on this but really hasn't done squat. Time to get off your butt Mayor Doherty and make a sincere effort. This issue needs to rise above the politics of "gotcha" that you play with Mrs Evans.