Maine Governor Paul LePage’s proposal to allow communities to tax large nonprofit organizations such as hospitals, colleges, and private schools would place an undue economic burden on students, weaken financial aid for Mainers, and strain longstanding relationships with host communities, officials from a variety of Maine colleges said Monday, Jan. 12.

Ruth Jackson, Colby’s assistant vice president for communications, said in a statement that President David A. Greene “has begun considering ways in which Colby can invest significantly in [Waterville] in coming years. … Colleges have long been engines of economic growth, and Colby is committed to supporting Waterville’s growth and prosperity.” She also said that the College enrolls a large number of students from Maine, 72 percent of whom receive financial aid.

Waterville City Manager Michael Roy noted that Colby supports entities such as the Mid-Maine Homeless Shelter, Waterville Public Library, and Waterville Main Street, and if Colby had to start paying a large tax bill, those places would be affected.

A statement from the Maine Independent College Association added, “These institutions are a major industry in many localities, create significant local economic activity, and provide cultural benefits to their communities. Without the property tax exemption, Maine private nonprofit educational institutions would be placed at a competitive disadvantage with other states’ institutions and with the public colleges of Maine (which are provided exemptions). The state should not be in the business of picking winners and losers.”

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