April 10, 2011

Letter to the Editor: Investing in a positive town-gown relationship

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To the Editor:

I know that the subject of Cornell’s tax exempt land holdings is a bit sensitive, so rather than ask whether it is appropriate for these holdings to be exempt, I would like to ask whether the voluntary contribution Cornell makes to the local community is appropriate.

I understand that Princeton makes an annual voluntary contribution of $10 million to its local community whereas Cornell gives $1 million annually.

My understanding is that Princeton would have an annual tax bill of around $28 million on its holdings were its holdings not tax exempt whereas Cornell would have a $30 million tax responsibility. And yet Princeton pays the local community 10 times that of what Cornell pays voluntarily.

I know that reputation is very important for Ivy League schools.

Maybe it is time for Cornell to be a bit more magnanimous towards its neighbors?

To me it doesn’t seem to bode well for the University if the city itself is not a bastion of social, environmental and intellectual progress.

Rylan Peery

Ithaca community member