Yale University is no longer New Haven’s biggest taxpayer.
In a press conference last week, Mayor John DeStefano Jr. announced that New Haven’s grand list, a registry of all taxable property in the city, showed the city gaining 3 percent in tax revenue in 2010, the largest growth rate in the state. And while the amount Yale paid in property tax in 2010 rose to $113 million, from $98 million in 2009, the University dropped four slots to become the city’s fifth-largest taxpayer as non-University developments rose throughout the city.
“The establishment and expansion of new business that led to the increases are testaments to New Haven’s increasing role as a hub for life sciences, financial services, and knowledge-based industries,” DeStefano said
Despite its drop in the rankings, the University still deserves credit for drawing many of the businesses that pay in hundreds of millions in taxes, Board of Aldermen President Carl Goldfield said.
“A lot of [the growth] is driven by symbiotic relationship we have with Yale,” Goldfield said. “In this kind of economy, which is going more to the ‘brains’ side of things, an institution like Yale attracts businesses.”
Indeed, several of the groups that jumped ahead of the University depend heavily on the University for revenue. Winstanley Enterprises, the city’s new top taxpayer, developed much of Science Park; Fusco Builders rents lab space to the University, as well.
Yale may no longer pay the most in property taxes, but through building permit fees, taxes on nonacademic properties and large voluntary contributions, it remains the key player in New Haven’s financial affairs, said Michael Morand ‘87 DIV ‘93, director of state communications and special initiatives, in an e-mail.
“Yale remains, by a wide margin, the single largest local contributor to the city budget…This substantial revenue from Yale is especially notable since the university consumes very little in city services,” Morand said.
Overall, the grand list showed a $149 million increase in assessed value over 2009. If tax rates hold the same, according to a press release, that means about $6.3 million in extra tax revenue for New Haven. The increase in taxable property will help shave the city’s projected $57 million budget deficit and, accordingly, allows city officials more leverage in finding ways to make New Haven more appealing to businesses, Goldfield said; they could even lower property taxes to attract new developments.
“We have to be doing things like rethinking airport investment, investing more in Tweed [New Haven Regional Airport],” he said. “The contradiction is that we are wholly reliant on property taxes for investments in public infrastructure. We need to break our reliance on property taxes.”
Fusco undertook the largest construction project of 2010: a new medical office and lab building adjacent to Smilow Cancer Hospital on Park Street. The new building added nearly $44 million in taxable property to the grand list.