Sunday, June 29, 2008

Newton turns to BC for more money

[Disclaimer: this is a non sports post, and yes my perspective is skewed as a BC alum living in suburban Atlanta. That said, I would feel the same way if I lived in Newton or if I was across the street from a major university.]

According to the Globe, Newton is facing a budget shortfall and looking to BC to help fill the gap. While I am all for being a good neighbor, BC should be very careful in how and what they do. Given the political climate in Massachusetts, BC should not allow for any precedent for taxes on their property or endowment. If BC agrees to any additional payments, it should be under specific terms and in exchange for leeway in the development plans and on-campus activities. As a reminder: Newton is the reason we can't have more night events on campus (specifically Thursday night ESPN football games). Newton is also the reason most of the new buildings are on lower campus and not near College Road. (I wonder how much of Newton's shortfalls can be traced back to frivolous lawsuits they've had against BC over the years?) If BC bails out Newton, they better get something concrete in return.

I love the Boston area and Massachusetts, but the growing sentiment to go after the schools is very disconcerting, short-sighted and dangerous. This editorial lays out my fear. The higher-education industry is one of the stabilizing forces in the area. Attacking BC and the other schools with new taxes puts them at a disadvantage. If these schools become less desirable (because of costs or value) then their endowments, their investments in the community, and their staffs will suffer. That hurts Massachusetts.

The not in my backyard mentality and soak the rich (in this case rich school) is never a good long-term solution. BC should use this moment to do some good for our neighbors, heal their relationship with Newton, and change the perception of the school within the community.


Joe Grav said...

Screw them.

BaldEagle90 said...

LOL! Newton wants cash. Hmmm. Let's see, silly town decides to build a 160 (or is it 190 - I can't keep track) million dollar high school.

And now they want BC to kick in money to balance their budget?!???!

Sounds like the town of Newton could use a few economics classes.

jesuitHOOPS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Bags said...

Demand Thursday night home football games every other year and start playing VT exclusively on Thursdays.

matthew2 said...

i love the sound of that joe bags.... america can get used to this new rivalry between the 2 elite teams in the acc. ok, well, maybe we're not in that class yet, but we're off to a good start in this conference.

they can be our new rival...since ND won't admit we are a rival, we can upgrade to a better football team. We've played some good games with them already and we both have history in the big east... va tech on thursday nights is just exciting for everyone.

Bravesbill said...

That's what happens when you put the Democrats in charge.

Erik said...

Bravesbill - you're awesome! Let's turn a BC athletic blog into Republicans vs Democrats. Great idea.

I think BC should help them, but should point out every singe instance of the residents and town officials preventing the University from operating in the past: football parking, stadium building, hours of tailgating, day & time of games, construction of the new McElroy & student center, etc. Then arrange for this BS to not happen anymore, and cut the check for the full amount. just announced $21 million was donated to the Flynn Fund. Use a lot of that money. If they can specifically negotiate a better situation for sports & their fans, then it directly benefits the people who wrote those checks, BC fans. Makes sense to me.

SectionKK said...

I agree with Erik. BC has a lot of money. I don't think BC owes Newton anything, but I think it can use this opportunity to get things it needs out of Newton. Extended tailgating would be a great start (though I know this has more to do with Boston than Newton). If nothing else, BC could tie it to some infrastructure improvements in Chestnut Hill that are tangentially related to upper and middle campus and use it to help smooth the process for getting the new academic buildings approved.

Lisa H said...

Some of what Newton is asking for holds some merit. I say that as a result of the experience we had living in Evanston, IL, home of Northwestern. There were some affluent areas of town and some not so affluent areas. The university was exempt from paying property taxes. As well, they received all their water and fire and rescue services from the city free of charge. The school would buy residential properties and convert them into staff offices and student housing. This further reduced the property tax income received by the city. As a result, the property tax bills for Evanston residents were excessive.

While Newton may not have done a great job managing their budget (the cost of the high school is too high), BC might want to consider bailing them out as a one time gift and making certain they get some concessions in the process. When the Newton residents realize that they won't have money coming out of their pocket in exchange for a small inconvenience on a Thursday evening, they might change their minds.

Big Jack Krack said...

Is the Stadium in Newton? I'd love to see BC add 10,000 more seats by somehow completing the "Bowl". Georgia Tech did a great job with their addition in my opinion.

I'd hate to see BC fall way behind. Rutgers has gone from 30,000 to 55,000 by the season opener this year. Next thing we know, Wake Forest will expand and leave us behind.

Just my opinion.

By the way - I like Virginia Tech as a rival but may I suggest Clemson, a team in our own division? We have had 3 fantastic games in a row (from our perspective)and we'll always have to go through them to win the Atlantic. No offense to the other teams, but Clemson makes sense to me at this point.

GBM said...

Nobody reads this post anymore, but as an, ehem, Newton Resident, I have to chime in.

Basically last month the bonehead mayor, thanks to his monstrous $200 million plan for Newton North High School, proposed a $13 million (I think) tax override, and it failed. (Thank goodness we still have some common sense here). Thanks to the city's current administration who has no idea to handle money, many cuts in libraries, schools, public services, etc. are necessary. and we are now in a need for a bit more cash, though I love that the defeat enforces Fiscal responsibility.

First let me say I am embarrassed by some of my rich neighbors. My family is middle class, or "poor" by Newton's standards. We have more than our share of rich snobby professors, and I despise their crankiness when it comes to BC and Thursday Night games, campus matters, etc. It's not the only thing, believe me. People like this also prevent such things as lights in the local League fields, etc. I am embarrassed to be grouped together with these people, who are not only unsatisfied with their luxurious Jaguar and 10,000 square-foot homes, but they feel the need to dictate what can and cannot go on within a large radius of their (often secluded) properties.

That said, here is why I am in agreement with the city of Newton on this. With his precious override now dead, the Administration is only now branching out and thinking of new ways to fund city needs. I am happy to see us reaching out to BC to ask for some financial assistance. And keep in mind, BC is not being singled out, there are five universities and colleges within the City of Newton, and they all have hundreds upon hundreds of acres oftax-free property. I understand BC already donates around $100,000 annually to the city, but for a University with a multi-billion dollar endowment and planning to build a large expansion on Newton property, I do feel that the University can certainly afford to compensate a little more than it does already, especially since they are exempt from taxes. (The article Sunday mentioned that if all five colleges in Newton paid taxes, the city would take in $122 million per year)

I feel that this would be an excellent opportunity to strengthen the bond between BC and Newton. I see this as a sign of things to come from the Administration of Newton, and it is a good one (thanks, override defeaters!). Plus, I don't believe BC is in any great position to be greedy about money -- not that they are, but in all honesty this wouldn't cost them much at all. And I think it would be great if BC could get in return that Thursday night game, because once every four years is so ridiculous. I'm not saying it should be a concrete agreement, but if it isn't, hopefully any kind of extra donation would soften up the rich neighbors and maybe, just maybe, they would change their minds.

I hope I answered some of your outside judgments and opinions of this situation, and I hope you consider this from the perspective of people like me. Because frankly, no matter how much I love the Eagles, I'd rather see teachers in our schools than BC having an extra $100,000 per year. I hope BC has some goodwill left because even though this mess is the fault of our Mayor, voters have already taken the first step in the right direction for the city and its money.

Andrew S. said...

I support being a good neighbor and helping Newton out with it's tight budget. I'm hesitant at the precedent that could be set though... Does the school need incentive to do this? I don't really think so, though I certainly would hope that a little good will would go both ways.

Funny how it seems there are lots of people putting their hands in the pie that is the school's master plan.