Frequently Asked Questions

How much does Brown currently make in direct payments to Providence?

In FY 2014, Brown paid $8 million to the city in voluntary and property tax payments. This includes $1.2 million in voluntary payments through a 2003 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Brown, the other private colleges and universities in Providence, and the city; $1.5 million in voluntary tax payments on property used for educational purposes (like 121 South Main Street); $1.34 million on leased properties or those not used for educational purposes, and an additional $3.9 million under the 2012 Memorandum of Agreement with the city.

Does Brown pay taxes on commercial properties?

Yes, Brown pays $1 million in property taxes on properties used for commercial purposes, such as the Bookstore and post office on Thayer Street, 60 Clifford Street (home of NabSys), and 121 South Main Street (home of Hemenway’s restaurant). Brown also pays property taxes on space it leases — $300,000 in fiscal year 2014 alone.

How many Providence residents does Brown employ?

Brown University directly employs 1,553 Providence residents.

How much property do private colleges and universities own in Providence?

Private colleges and universities in the city account for 8.1 percent of the assessed value of property in Providence — not the 40 percent often cited. The remainder of the tax- exempt property is held by city, state, and federal governments, churches, hospitals, museums, and other nonprofit organizations. The city also receives funds from the state’s PILOT program, which reimburses the city for property held by private colleges, universities, and hospitals. In fiscal year 2015, the city received $27.1 million in state PILOT funds.

Does Brown pay the City for services it receives?

Absolutely. In addition to $8 million in voluntary and property tax payments to the city, Brown pays $2.3 million in fees each year, including $1.4 million for sewer utility fees, $850,000 for water, and another $75,000 in other city and state fees.

Brown also maintains its own armed, nationally accredited campus law enforcement agency to ensure the safety and security of the Brown campus. Campus police and security officers patrol the campus community of 12,000, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year — a law enforcement responsibility that would otherwise fall to the city.

The University provides and maintains a community police sub- station on Brook Street and a second in the Jewelry District at no cost to the city. Brown also pays the city about $60,000 each year for Providence police details to complement the force at peak periods such as Commencement. In addition, the University operates its own EMT service with an ambulance that responds to over 1,000 calls per year.

How else does Brown contribute?

In addition to thousands of hours of community service provided by Brown students and employees, Brown provides more than $4.1 million in scholarships and financial aid to Rhode Island students. Brown has active, long-term partnerships with ten Providence public schools and lends support and resources to thousands of school students in Rhode Island’s urban districts. Brown has raised $1.5 million toward a $10 million endowment for the children of Providence public schools, and about $400,000 in grants already has been allocated to city schools.

Brown continues to play an integral role in developing the knowledge economy, bringing jobs and expertise to Providence, investing approximately $200 million in and around the Jewelry District over the last decade, purchasing and renovating facilities and providing essential research infrastructure, neighborhood enhancements, and thousands of construction-related jobs. Brown is the leading center of scientific research and development in Rhode Island. Over the past five years, Brown has spent $164 million per year for research, almost all of which comes from out of state and is spent in state.

Agreement with the City

Given Brown’s modest size and resources, Brown’s current payment of $8 million to Providence makes it a national leader among its peers in contributions to its host city.

Why is a partnership between the City and Brown important?

Brown is the sixth largest private employer in the state and generates significant economic activity through direct and visitor spending, purchasing, research spending and construction activity. Brown employees pay nearly $12 million in income taxes to the state of Rhode Island.

Brown plays an integral role in developing the knowledge economy and has invested approximately $200 million in and around the Jewelry District over the last decade, purchasing and renovating facilities and providing essential research infrastructure, neighborhood enhancements and vital construction related jobs.

Much can be accomplished by working in a mutually cooperative, collaborative way to successfully advance economic development and the prosperity of the city of Providence and state of Rhode Island.

What is Brown doing to address its carbon footprint?

In 2008, Brown committed to aggressive greenhouse gas reduction goals:

  • For existing buildings, a 42% reduction below 2007 levels by 2020
  • For new construction, (LEEDSilver) 25-50% below standard required by state code
  • For newly acquired buildings, 15-30% reduction

In the past six years, Brown has reduced its energy-related carbon footprint by 26.6% below 2007 levels. This puts Brown ahead of the 25% reduction goal in the original plan. This rapid reduction was accomplished by fuel switching to natural gas at the Central Heat Plant and by investing $23 Million in 387 energy efficiency projects across campus.

last updated 10/27/2014