Tuesday, May 3, 2011

The Dutchess County Coalition of Nonprofits Presents: "Strengthening Government & Nonprofit Relationships in New York State: Lessons Learned from Deb

As State and County governments are forced to make cuts in staffing and services, our citizens and our public officials are turning increasingly to non-profit organizations to fill the gap. To do so efficiently and effectively, government and the non-profit sector must communicate and collaborate as much as possible. However, in NY State and Dutchess County, there is little or no mechanism for this two-way dialog and cooperation. This presentation will present one possible model to bring government and the non-profits together to benefit our common constituency.

Together, we are going to tackle some important issues facing our sector and hopefully gain some important insight as to how we can encourage our State and Local leaders to make a strong statement about the nonprofit sector as they have in Connecticut.

Event Details:
Date: May 13, 2011
Time: 10am-12pm
Location: Locust Grove Estate
2683 South Road
Poughkeepsie, NY
Cost: FREE

Register HERE

Who Should Attend?

All Board Members, Executive Directors, Nonprofit, Staff Members, Nonprofit Funders and Public Officials are invited to hear how this ground breaking appointment will coordinate efforts to advise Connecticut's Governor regarding policies and other measures that will benefit the state/ nonprofit partnership.There will be discussion on ways in which Dutchess County and NYS could possibly establish similar liaisons.

Thanks to a generous donation of space from Locust Grove we will be hosted at the Locust Grove Estate. See below for details.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Boston is Pushing PILOTs for Nonprofits: What Will be the Impact

Tim Delaney, President & CEO, National Council of Nonprofits, posted to Huffington Post about the recent issue of PILOTS in Boston.

As he relates: Leaders of nonprofit organizations across America were stunned by reports this week in the Boston Globe and NPR's Marketplace that the City of Boston would turn its back on the nonprofit cultural, educational, and health care institutions that have played such vital roles in making that city great.

What stunned nonprofit leaders nationwide is that Boston sent letters essentially mandating that various nonprofits make "Payments-In-Lieu-Of-Taxes" (PILOTs) to the city based on the value of their property, even though Massachusetts law -- like the law in all 50 states -- prohibits local governments from taxing nonprofit property. What in turn shocked nonprofit leaders is how Boston intends to enforce its supposedly "voluntary" PILOT program: with a Scarlet-letter campaign designed to coerce compliance with the city's demand for "voluntary" payments.

Boston has concocted an Orwellian program that uses euphemisms -- such as "PILOTs" instead of "property taxes" and "voluntary" instead of "coerced" -- apparently attempting to hide what is really happening to evade what the law prohibits. The city, knowing the courts would strike down as an illegal act any attempt to directly impose property taxes on charitable nonprofits, invented a program to coerce "voluntary" Payments-In-Lieu-Of-Taxes. But slapping on a misleading label to cover a bad act does not render it any more acceptable; a payment based on property value is still a tax.

To enforce its legally unenforceable program, Boston has threatened to paint a Scarlet letter of shame on every nonprofit that does not comply with the city's demands for payments. Such coercion to obtain what the Commonwealth's law prohibits is outrageous and threatens everyone; who's next, when Boston -- or any government -- wants something the law prohibits?

The city's program also disregards unique aspects of nonprofit law, thus putting coerced nonprofits at risk of running afoul of the Massachusetts Attorney General, who has jurisdiction to oversee that funds donated to nonprofits are used as donors intend. By demanding that nonprofits pay the city 25 percent of their property's tax value, the city is whipsawing nonprofits, putting them in a lose-lose dilemma: either undergo the city's shameful public branding, or cave in to the city's demands to pay, only to have the Massachusetts Attorney General come after the nonprofit if donors complain that they gave their money for purposes other than transfers to the city treasury.

In trying to balance its budget on the backs of people served by charities and those who donate to them, Boston has disregarded not only the law, but also fiscal reality. The recession already has stretched nonprofits too far financially as demands for their services have skyrocketed while their revenues have nosedived, with corporate contributions declining, foundation grants down, and governments delaying payments and not paying full costs on legally-binding contracts. According to the IRS, even individual giving has sagged by 20 percent. Read more here.