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February 09. 2012 11:44PM

Pinkerton parasites? Sapareto's math

Under state law, public academies like Pinkerton Academy in Derry — a private school that functions as the town's public high school — are exempt from taxation. State Rep. Frank Sapareto, R-Derry, thinks that designation leaves his town holding the bag. He wants to change the law so the town can levy property taxes on the academy.

This is interesting particularly in light of the broader discussion in Concord regarding the tax-exempt status of non-profit hospitals. Some legislators want off-campus, essentially for-profit medical facilities to be taxable even if they're owned by non-profit hospitals. And of course Gov. John Lynch previously has pointed out that non-profit hospitals sure look a lot like for-profit businesses.

But that is not Sapareto's argument regarding Pinkerton. He rests his case entirely on the fact that about 1,000 Pinkerton students come from out of town (they pay tuition). He claims that Derry taxpayers are burdened with providing services to these non-taxpayers.

Does Sapareto propose also taxing churches that draw worshippers from out of town? Hospitals with out-of-town patients? No. Just Pinkerton.

If Pinkerton's out-of-town students are such a burden on Derry taxpayers, then the townspeople would benefit by posting notice that these students — and their family members who visit town for games, plays and other events — are no longer welcome in local restaurants and shops. To be a net drain on Derry, by definition they must consume more in services than they contribute to the local economy. If Rep. Sapareto is right, then all Derry businesses would pay their property tax bills more easily if they rid the town of these economic parasites. So, who wants to be the first in town to bet their livelihood that he is right?


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