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Oppose Portland's Proposed PILOT Policy

by Jennifer Gray


After a public hearing at which multiple Portland nonprofits, as well as MANP, testified against the PILOT proposal, the City of Portland’s Economic Development Committee decided to take no action and advised the city staff to reach out the Portland’s nonprofit community and be more collaborative. Staff may take the issue up again next year.

The City of Portland’s Economic Development Committee is holding a regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday, October 2 at 5:30 pm in Room 209 of Portland City Hall. At that meeting, the committee is holding a public hearing on its proposed Portland Payment in Lieu of Taxes Policy targeting Portland nonprofits with assessed value over $2 million.

This proposed formal policy is intended to replace the current informal PILOT program which focuses on a conversation between the city and individual nonprofit wishing to voluntarily offer a payment in lieu of taxes. Although this proposal is focused on Portland, other Maine communities could consider it a model potentially impacting nonprofits across the state.

Take Action: Please join us in opposing the proposed PILOT Policy

Nonprofits embody and sustain the fundamental social, cultural, and spiritual values of trust, compassion, justice, and moral behavior that bind us together. In recognition of their critical role, our government does not collect taxes from nonprofits. Collecting Payment in Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) from Portland’s nonprofits would divert funds from the delivery of vital services and programs and have negative consequences for our community.

Attend the hearing and share your concerns or submit comments before the meeting to and copy If you attend the hearing and wish to submit written comments, bring 10 copies.

Talking Points

Nonprofits Provide Needed Services for Portland

  • Municipalities and nonprofit organizations share a common purpose of supporting a healthy and vibrant society. As government at all levels has faced fiscal challenges, municipalities have been looking to nonprofits more than ever to help provide essential services.
  • Nonprofits earn an exemption from property tax because they provide services that citizens expect of, or would like from, their government.
  • Nonprofits are the economic engines of many communities and make our communities more desirable places to live and raise a family.

The Proposed PILOT Policy is Coercive

  • While the language indicates it’s voluntary, Portland’s nonprofits will be sent bills every six months and Portland’s budget will assume payment.

The Proposed PILOT Policy is Built on False Assumptions

  • Although the proposed policy addresses the cost of services such as police, fire, and public works, it’s based on assessed property value which does not correlate to services used. It’s simply not fair or accurate to assume that higher valued properties use more services.
  • Service fees are paid by nonprofits based on usage – examples are water and sewer fees.

A Formulaic Approach is Not Fair or Workable for Nonprofits

  • The proposed PILOT formula is not fair because it assumes all nonprofits use the same amount of municipal services and caps the value of services provided by each nonprofit.
  • Portland’s nonprofits are unique and vary significantly by mission, size, and services. The current PILOT program recognizes that one size does not fit all. The annual conversation that currently occurs between nonprofits and the city encourages direct and open communication and fosters understanding about the services provided by both parties.
  • The proposal also only allows activities outside of core mission to be considered for a services in lieu of taxes credit.

This PILOT Policy Would Lead to Negative Impacts on the Community

  • Portland’s nonprofits would have to either increase fees for service or reduce or eliminate services for those with low income, mentally health issues, without housing, battling opioid addiction, food insecurity, at risk youth, etc.
  • Among Portland’s nonprofits that would face difficult decisions are organizations that attract visitors who contribute money to the economy while also operating at very tight margins in order to provide cultural attractions that businesses and property owners benefit from.

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