Barrington is seeking a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) from the private St. Andrew’s School on Federal Road.
The Town Council voted unanimously Monday night, Jan. 6, to direct the town manager to start talks with school officials on coming up with an equitable PILOT that reflects services provided to the school by the town.
St. Andrew’s is exempt from all property taxes under a charter granted to it by the state decades ago. Barrington cannot legally tax the school, said Town Solicitor Mike Ursillo.
“I don’t think the intention of the state was to burden the town,” said Town Councilor Bill DeWitt. “So how do we put together something that makes sense?”
The town definitely provides police and fire services to St. Andrew’s, according to Town Manager Peter DeAngelis Jr. And faculty and staff members who choose to enroll their children in Barrington schools would be getting a free education for them, he said.
DeAngelis said he anticipates contacting officials at St. Andrew’s over the next week or so to get the talks started.
A private PILOT agreement would be a first in Barrington. The town gets an approximate $13,000 PILOT from the state for the Tillinghast Farm campus of the Rhode Island School of Design, said Tax Assessor Mike Minardi. But that money does not come from the college.
“It comes out of a bucket of money from the state for colleges and universities,” said Minardi. “We’re supposed to get 27 percent of the town’s tax rate. It typically is about 21 percent.”
“We have no deal with an exempt property owner,” said Minardi, who calculated that St. Andrew’s owns approximately 72 acres of land and buildings worth about $22.75 million.
That would yield about $414,000 for Barrington if the school could be taxed, he said in a memo to the Town Council.
DeWitt, who expects to be part of the conversation with St. Andrew's officials along with Town Council President June Speakman, said: “We’re asking for their cooperation.”