Regarding the PILOT Program

Dear Editor, 

     On Election Day, the City published the PILOT payments numbers for FY 2020.  Usually this happens in July but due to the pandemic,  the report was issued in November.  While there were some fluctuations from previous years contributions fell short once again of the requested funds.  Certainly this has been a difficult year for our institutions as it has been for everyone.  Boston hospitals  responded quickly to meet the needs of residents.  While some hospitals did not meet their full payment, it is great to see that the City Assessing Department and the hospitals affiliated with the Partners network  created a deferral payment plan to fulfill their obligation.

     Many of these institutions do not pay the full requested amount, and some do not  provide an accounting of their community benefit expenditures.  Historically many of our city’s leading non profits like Harvard University, Boston College and Northeastern fall short on their PILOT payments, which are set 75% below what they would pay if they were for-profits paying property tax at 2009 assessed values and half of that can be offset  by in kind community benefits.  This year alone, PILOT payments were collectively short some $21 Million.  Over the previous 8 years the city has lost out on $98 Million.  While some institutions may be severely challenged, others such as Harvard have sizable endowments that saw record growth over the last ten years.  Harvard, with its endowment over $40 Billion could certainly afford its PILOT payment. 

     Our organization, the PILOT Action Group, composed of many community activists, faith based and labor organizations, continues to press for full payments, revaluation of the properties and a clear standard for community benefits and an expanded community engagement process.  Two years ago the PILOT Action Group published a report highlighting the shortcomings of the program.  Councilors Essaibi-George and Edwards held a Council hearing attended by over 300 people.  This year, City Council President Kim Janey named a standing PILOT Reform Committee, headed by Councilor Bok. In late October the City Assessing Department announced its intention to “reassess the PILOT properties” in the coming year.  We welcome this announcement as a step in the right direction since PILOT properties were last assessed in 2009.   In June the Mayor Declared racism to be a public health crisis.  At a time of great economic and racial inequity, the PILOT Action Group will continue to advocate for a stronger more inclusive PILOT Program,  that meets the needs of all residents and addresses the social determinants of health and systemic racism.  

Enid Eckstein

PILOT Action Group

Don’t pass ammendment number 759

Dear Editor,         

     The Catholic Church teaches that life itself starts at conception and ends with natural death.

     The Massachusetts state legislature is currently debating the annual budget to fund state government for the balance of the fiscal year. As part of that process many amendments are filed for consideration. House amendment number 759 will be considered by the full House in the coming days. This amendment would expand abortion access in the Commonwealth well beyond what is enshrined in state law.

     While we acknowledge the amendment addresses some concerns that were raised about the deeply troubling provisions of the ROE legislation, the fact remains that abortion would remain an option under certain circumstances for the full term of the pregnancy. That fact alone is in direct conflict with Catholic teaching and must be opposed.

     In addition, current law requires a young woman under the age of 18 years old to gain the consent of a parent, guardian or the court to have an abortion. The amendment under consideration would decrease the age of consent to 16 years old. In its simplest terms, a 16 or 17 year old girl would be deprived of the guidance and support of an adult at the time of making this life changing decision. 

     Finally, although life-supporting equipment would be required to be in the room for abortions performed after 24 weeks, the specific language in the amendment is nuanced enough that the physician would not be required to use the equipment. Specifically, it would “enable” the physician performing the abortion to take appropriate steps, in keeping with good medical practice….to preserve the life and health of a live birth and the patient. 

For these reasons we urge the full House of Representatives not to pass amendment number 759. 

His Eminence Seán P.

O’Malley, OFM, Cap.

Archbishop of Boston

Most Reverend Robert J. McManus

Bishop of Worcester

Most Reverent Edgar M. da Cunha, SDV

Bishop of Fall River

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