December 23, 2020

Town and PU Agree on $8.5M Contributions To Municipality Over the Next Two Years

By Donald Gilpin

The town of Princeton and Princeton University have agreed on a two-year extension of the University’s funding to support municipal operations, with the Princeton Council approving the agreement at its December 14 meeting. The University will provide a total of $8.482 million to the town over the next two years.

“This agreement is the result of our year-long discussions with Princeton University to affirm the University’s commitment to the well-being of the municipality and its taxpayers,” said Councilwoman Eve Niedergang, one of the town’s representatives in discussions with the University. “This short-term agreement, which continues the 4 percent annual increase, is one key step in continuing to build a relationship with the University focused on our mutual shared interests in maintaining the town’s fiscal health, diversity of population, and thriving downtown.”

The extended agreement includes unrestricted contributions by the University of $3,619,200 in 2021 and $3,764,000 in 2022. Since the current agreement began in 2014, the University has contributed more than $21.81 million to the municipality.

The University has also agreed to make contributions to specific needs totaling $1.1 million, including additional funding to support the Princeton Fire Department and $250,000 to support construction of a new storage facility for the Princeton Department of Public Works.

“The commitment to the fire department is just one of the many ways we are partnering with the University,” said Councilwoman Michelle Pirone Lambros, who also represented the town in the discussions. “For example, the Princeton Small Business Resiliency Fund would not have been possible without the University’s contribution of $350,000 to support our small businesses during the pandemic.”

Princeton University President Christopher Eisgruber emphasized the importance of collaborations between the town and the University during the pandemic and beyond. “Throughout the COVID pandemic the town and the University have worked together creatively and collaboratively to meet many challenges,” he said, as quoted in a University press release. “The extension of the voluntary contribution agreement and the financial support that it provides for municipal operations is a further reflection of the University’s ongoing support for the community.”

At the time of the original agreement in April 2014, then Princeton Council President Bernie Miller described the agreement and the process of achieving it as “unique” and “groundbreaking.”

In 2011 a group of local residents sued the University claiming that it should pay property taxes on nearly 20 buildings not directly related to classroom or educational activities, such as Princeton University Press, Alexander Hall, Prospect House, Dillon Gymnasium, McCarter Theatre, the Frist Campus Center, and McCosh Infirmary.

The University’s press release pointed out that in addition to the voluntary contributions, Princeton University is the largest taxpayer in Princeton, with $11.6 million in property and sewer taxes paid to the municipality of Princeton in 2019. “At least $6 million of the University’s annual tax payments to Princeton are made voluntarily on properties that qualify for tax exemption under New Jersey law,” the press release states.