Town Will Seek More Payments in Lieu of Taxes

Of the $3.6 billion worth of property in the Town of Sandwich, nearly $400 million is exempt from real estate taxes.

Yet those exempt properties share in town services, such as road maintenance and public safety, which are funded by Sandwich property owners who are not exempt from real estate taxes.

At present, three tax-exempt property owners in town make payments in lieu of taxes, a practice known by the acronym PILOT. Those payments come to about $42,000.

Edward L. Childs, the town’s director of assessing, would like to see more money in lieu of taxes coming to the town.

To that end, Mr. Childs plans to analyze the filings now coming in from Sandwich nonprofits seeking property tax exemptions. The filings are due by March 1 every year.

After completing that analysis, Mr. Childs plans to make a presentation in April or May to the board of assessors on the issue.

The official acknowledged that the town cannot compel the organizations to pay taxes, or payments in lieu of taxes. But Mr. Childs said the town would encourage payments that are reasonable and possible, money that would come in on a sustainable, regular basis.

“I’d like to see a dialogue started,” he said. “We’re not asking for the moon.”

For example, he said the town would not ask nonprofits for payments reflecting the share of property taxes tied to the schools, given that the organizations do not use school services.

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Should a number of nonprofits be facing a financial squeeze, Mr. Childs suggests that they could provide benefits other than payments to the town, such as reduced admission prices for Sandwich residents.

But nonprofit organizations in town have argued that they already provide significant community benefits and services.

One—which already makes a payment in lieu of taxes—is Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Cape Cod on Service Road. The other two are the Sandwich Housing Authority and the Nye Family of America Association.

Spaulding, which for 19 years has provided advanced rehabilitation services to residents of the Cape, Islands and South Shore, is one of the largest employers in Sandwich, according to Carole A. Stasiowski, director of marketing and community relations.

Ms. Stasiowski said Spaulding adds value to the town in other ways as well. The hospital, which originally owned 70 acres of land, donated about 30 acres to the town as conservation land. She said the hospital and its outpatient pediatric center in Forestdale are regional resources, attracting families from on and off the Cape who benefit from specialized services.     

Spaulding Cape Cod also provides free annual educational and screening programs, and provides free care to qualifying patients.

The hospital negotiated a payment as part of a deal to purchase a needed town-owned parcel prior to the facility’s construction.

The annual payment, originally $12,000, has risen to about $25,500 this year.

Mr. Childs said that the housing authority, which is required by law to make payments according to a formula in lieu of taxes, pays about $16,000.

The family association, which came forward of its own accord to the town, pays $500.

Mr. Childs said another nonprofit organization in town, the Riverview School on Route 6A, voluntarily does not seek tax exemptions for three of its parcels, including the parcel containing the Riverview Café.
The official said the school pays taxes on the three parcels, which together are assessed at $794,100. Given the current Sandwich property tax rate of $14.57 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, Riverview is paying more than $11,500 on the parcels.

But whatever payments come in to town coffers from nonprofits can be dwarfed by the taxes from which they are exempt.

In Sandwich, the four largest nonprofit organizations exempt from property taxes are the rehabilitation hospital, the YMCA, Riverview School and  Heritage Museums & Gardens.

For Fiscal Year 2014, the rehabilitation hospital property is assessed at $26,579,400. Without the exemption, the hospital would be facing more than $387,000 in property taxes.

The Cape Cod and South Shore YMCAs, which own property in the Stowe Road area assessed at $20,752,900, would pay just over $300,000 in property taxes.

The Riverview School, with property assessed at $19,008,400, would be facing a tax bill of just over $275,000.

And Heritage, with property assessed at $11,826,900, would be looking at a property tax bill of more than $170,000.

At present, Sandwich residents and businesses pay more than $50 million in property taxes each year.

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