The members of a commission responsible for exploring New Haven’s revenues will include several individuals who have long been involved in the debate over the University’s fiscal impact on the city.
Aldermanic President Jorge Perez confirmed last night that he had selected the 13 members of the commission, who will be entrusted with exploring potential revenue sources for a city that has faced budgetary shortfalls in recent years. While the commission’s scope extends beyond Yale, its members include several New Haven residents who have been outspoken in their views on the University — including several aldermen, a Yale administrator and individuals associated with the University’s labor movement.
In particular, the commission, which was established by the Board of Aldermen last year, will include two former aldermen who have been particularly active on the issue of Yale’s tax status — former Ward 17 Alderman Matthew Naclerio and Yale Associate Vice President for New Haven and State Affairs Michael Morand.
Last year, Naclerio introduced a resolution calling on the University to give more to New Haven and asking the city to explore repealing a state law that exempts from taxation all Yale property earning less than $6,000 in income, regardless of its purpose. Morand, on the other hand, was an outspoken critic of Naclerio’s measure last year before it passed the Board of Aldermen.
Like other colleges and universities in Connecticut, Yale’s educational property is exempt from property taxes. While the legislation creating the revenue commission does not mention Yale by name, it refers to the Naclerio resolution and the tax status of the “largest nonprofit institution in New Haven.”
Morand, who once served as Ward 1 alderman, said he hopes the discussion over Yale’s role in the city will recognize the positive impact of Yale and other nonprofits on New Haven.
“My colleagues and I trust and hope that this will be a fair and thorough process and an opportunity to move from the negative politics of soundbites and attacks that for too long have characterized the discussion around tax-exempts,” Morand said.
Naclerio, who retired from the board last year, said he expected the issue of Yale to come up in discussions about the city’s ability to raise revenues. But Naclerio emphasized that he had no desire to single out Yale specifically, and he said he looked forward to a “lively debate.”
“Yale was not a particular target,” Naclerio said. “They just happen to be the largest nonprofit in the city taking up the largest amount of property.”
In addition to Naclerio and Morand, the commission will also include current aldermen Jacqueline James, Andrea Jackson-Brooks, Sergio Rodriguez and Carl Goldfield, as well as two individuals closely associated with Yale’s labor movement, Carlos Aramayo GRD ’04 and Rev. Henry Morris. Among the other members appointed to the board include a tax expert and representatives of the city’s churches and nonprofits.
Although the commission is only entrusted with making recommendations to City Hall, members of the Board of Aldermen said they hoped it would help build support for efforts to boost New Haven’s revenues. Because New Haven is dependent almost entirely on state aid and local property taxes for its funding, city leaders have frequently complained of an inability to find adequate revenues for city services.
New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr., who has called for the changes in state law that would allow cities greater freedom in raising money, said earlier this week that Perez had selected a “good group” for the commission.
“What I’m sure they will do is look at the list of choices that exist under current statute,” DeStefano said. “Approximately half our revenues come from the state of Connecticut, and it seems to me that this could be a good way to look at locally generated revenue.”
The commission’s appointees are scheduled to serve 17-month terms, during which time they are expected to explore both the city’s current funding and “all sources of revenue that may be prudentially available.”