Andrew Yang Wants Alma Mater Columbia to Pay for City Services
Andrew Yang, the former presidential contender running for New York City mayor, says his alma mater Columbia University is going to have to pitch in to help with the city’s budget. How much money he says he can get may be a stretch.
Yang, a 46-year-old Democrat, wants wealthy universities in the city to pay for services like fire protection and garbage removal. And he wants to scrap a tax subsidy given to Madison Square Garden. Combined, his proposals could raise “in the low hundreds of millions,” he said.
“There are very significant property tax exempt landlords in New York City that are benefiting from various city services that I believe could pay for those services,” Yang said at a Bloomberg News editorial board meeting on March 3. “My alma mater Columbia University, they buy an apartment building and use it to house faculty, we don’t get any property taxes on the building any more and they benefit from city services.”
Tapping into the wealth of schools with large endowments has been a perennial target for mayors in many cities struggling to pay the bills. But whether Yang could raise as much as he says is uncertain, since similar programs in other cities don’t yield the kind of cash he envisions.
Boston, which has the biggest payment-in-lieu-of-taxes program in the U.S., receives just $34 million in voluntary payments from 37 schools and hospitals. Yale University, the second-richest U.S. private college with an endowment of $31.2 billion, pays $5 million in taxes on non-academic properties. It voluntarily contributes $13 million to its hometown of New Haven, Connecticut.