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NYU and Columbia need to pay property taxes

Alexandra Adelina Nita

Lawmakers introduced a bill that would repeal the tax exemption of private universities, such as Columbia University and New York University, instead giving the tax revenue to CUNY institutions that serve 225,000 local students and are facing 3% budget cuts. Columbia and NYU shouldn’t be exempt from paying the appropriate property taxes at the expense of CUNY.

The universities each own about 14 million square feet of property in NYC, have some of the most expensive tuitions in the state and constantly receive donations from wealthy alumni. It is clear that both institutions can afford to pay property taxes.

CUNY colleges shouldn’t bear the brunt of city budget cuts, while the same officials provide tax breaks to rich institutions that can afford to fund them.

Even though it is the largest urban public university system in the country, CUNY schools have long been underfunded. The tax revenue from these properties will help fund CUNY with little damage to the large private institutions.

Some important programs that have faced budget cuts include CUNY Culture Corps, a program that provides opportunities for CUNY students to work in the arts, and the city’s Cultural Development Fund. As a result, many students who relied on these programs to get internships in competitive industries are no longer able to enjoy those opportunities.

Another example of recent cuts was at Queens College and York College, which let go of dozens of staff two weeks before the spring semester. As a result, over 200 class sections at York College were cut from the registrar, greatly impacting students’ schedules and graduation dates.

Baruch College was also impacted by the budget cuts. The elevators in the Newman Vertical Campus building and the Lawrence and Eris Field Building at 17 Lexington Avenue are in constant need of repairs. This leads to unsafe conditions, impacts students’ commutes and adds to crowding on campus.

While CUNY universities are struggling to get by, property giants continue to make even more money from tax breaks. Many of the issues experienced by CUNY could be rectified with more funding that could come from the property tax revenue from Columbia and NYU.

“At a time when CUNY faces budget cut after budget cut and is in a constant state of disrepair, Columbia and NYU—2 of the largest property holders in NYC—are exempted from paying property taxes. It’s time that these institutions pay their debts to the working class of New York City,” Assembly Member Zohran Mamdani, a member of the State Assembly’s Real Property Taxation Committee said.

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Alexandra Adelina Nita
Alexandra Adelina Nita, Graphics Editor
Alexandra Adelina Nita is the Graphics Editor for The Ticker.
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