Strapped Rhode Island City Presses College to Ante Up / Governor Signs Law Letting Smithfield Charge Bryant University Annual Fee for Safety Services

Source: Jennifer Levitz, Wall Street Journal, July 16, 2013
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As various town-gown battles simmer throughout New England, this small community has just received a rare weapon: the right to bill a local university for public-safety services. Gov. Lincoln Chafee recently signed legislation granting the town the ability to charge private Bryant University an annual fee for taxpayer-funded police, fire and rescue response. The law may be the first of its kind, and the university’s president has said he plans to challenge it in court….
Related:
New Law in Rhode Island Requires Bryant U. to Pay Town for Services
Source: Charles Huckabee, Chronicle of Higher Education, Ticker blog, July 12, 2013

Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee of Rhode Island has signed into law a measure that requires Bryant University to pay the Town of Smithfield for police, fire, and rescue-service expenses, The Providence Journal reported. The university’s president, former U.S. Rep. Ronald K. Machtley, had urged the governor to veto the bill, saying it would set a dangerous precedent for the legislature to force a nonprofit educational institution to make such payments.

The legislation requires Bryant to pay the town $250,000 to $370,000 annually, starting in March 2014, unless the two parties have negotiated a different agreement before then. Earlier this week, Mr. Machtley said that if the bill became law, the university would fight it in court. In a statement issued on Thursday, he said the university would meet with the town but would also “undertake a review and consider all of its options, including litigation.”
Related:
Chafee signs bill requiring Bryant University to reimburse Smithfield for services
Source: Katherine Gregg, Providence Journal, July 11, 2013

…The legislation requires Bryant and the town to negotiate an agreement for payment. If they fail to do so by March 1, 2014, the matching House and Senate bills require Bryant to begin paying the town for the cost….

…After Machtley called a press conference to denounce the legislation last weekend, Winfield, D-Smithfield, said Smithfield averages about 300 calls a year for service at Bryant and, from that, about 50 arrests, which have to be adjudicated. “Well, why is that on the back of the taxpayers? That has nothing to do with us,” Winfield said. Supporters also note that colleges in Providence are voluntarily making payments in lieu of taxes to the city….