The Public Trough

Jeff Boudreau sent along an interesting post from the Boston Herald on a subject that closely relates to our subject matter. Public radio stations are subsidized by taxpayer money, in the form of grants from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. And they hit up the public twice a year for donations, leaning heavily on the public conscience as well as the local business community (more and more). But you don’t hear a lot about the hidden subsidy they receive in terms of city service provided gratis, in many cases. This story deals with the minimal amount WGBH, in particular ā€” which sits in a new $85 million tax-exempt TV and radio complex in Brighton and hauls in more than $200 million annually ā€” has laid out for the services that local taxpayers are on the line for ā€” things like police and the fire department. As the story says, WGBH “has made only token payments for city services in the past.” And, it notes, half of the land in Boston is tax-exempt, even while some of the nonprofit institutions pay their heads hundreds of thousands of dollars in salaries. Boston has a new “PILOT” program (“Payments in Lieu of Taxes”) that is now looking at securing some form of payment from these exempt establishments. The profusion of comments to this story demonstrate the emotion raised by this question.

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