Updated January 30 at 7:30pm

General Assembly passes bill to alter Bryant’s tax-exempt status

A bill that would force Bryant University to pay Smithfield for its use of the town’s police, rescue and fire services in the absence of a deal with the town passed the General … More

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General Assembly passes bill to alter Bryant’s tax-exempt status

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SMITHFIELD – A bill that would force Bryant University to pay Smithfield for its use of the town’s police, rescue and fire services in the absence of a deal with the town passed the General Assembly this week, stirring sharp criticism from the university.

The legislation, which passed the state Senate on a 31-6 vote Monday evening after clearing the House Friday, would amend Bryant’s tax-exempt status so that Smithfield can bill any university for the services’ costs, barring a memorandum of agreement, starting March 1.

Bryant has called on Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee to veto the bill. In a statement released Tuesday, the university disparaged what it called “heavy-handed legislation [coming] after several months of good-faith discussions with the Town of Smithfield.”

Bryant noted its $800,000 in annual support to Smithfield, $300,000 of which is voluntary, as well as other economic benefits the university brings to its surroundings.

Bryant also cited the state’s payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOT, program, through which Rhode Island reimburses Smithfield with $500,000 each year to make up for Bryant’s tax-exempt status. Under the new legislation, the university argued, the town would “double-dip.”

Recent attempts to work out an agreement ended in further acrimony last month when Bryant President Ronald K. Machtley did not show up at a Town Council meeting on the issue and the two sides proposed vastly different payment amounts for a potential deal, The Valley Breeze reported at the time.

Bryant University, PILOT, payment-in-lieu-of-taxes, bryant university,

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