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Town-Gown politics

May 18, 2009

The Question: What do universities owe to the communities around them?

Local governments facing declining revenues and major universities with shrinking endowments are both grappling with the nation’s economic crisis. In many places, the two institutions are at odds over how to deal with the recession:

Some cities and towns — including Ann Arbor, Mich., Durham, N.C., and Princeton, N.J. — have renewed calls for local colleges and universities to make voluntary payments to the communities because they have tax-exempt status.

Others have proposed levying taxes on dorm rooms or even on students, whom they say use municipal services at the expense of property taxpayers.

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