Township officials in Radnor would like Villanova and the township's other institutions of higher learning to pay a "tax" to cover their share of the costs of "public safety, street lights, traffic lights and snow removal." The University is currently tax-exempt as a not-for-profit entity, however, that hasn't stopped Radnor administrators from asking the schools to pay up.
Township officials believe it's not unreasonable to ask Villanova and the other institutions to shoulder some of the costs for public safety, street lights, traffic lights and snow removal that the township provides. Storm water emanating from the Villanova property is another issue the township contends with, said Stephen Norcini, director of public works.
Of the four institutions in the town, Villanova was asked to contribute the most, with a price tag of $685,000 annually proposed for the school. Cabrini was asked to pay $148,000 and Eastern $81,000. Valley Forge Military Academy, a two-year college and prep school, already makes payments to Radnor for these services.
Villanova claims, however, that it already pays out around $1.5 million to the township every year along with another $400,000 to the local school districts.
"Also, Villanova University officials have responded on numerous occasions to this request from Radnor Township officials," Gust said. "Specifically, the University has asked for information substantiating the Township suggestion that the University is a drain on its resources. No such information has been provided to date. Villanova is committed to a continuing dialogue, but believes it should also include the many other tax exempt organizations that make Radnor such a vibrant community."
Whether or not Villanova pays its fair share for the township's services is among the concerns that have been raised by residents and commissioners as the school has sought approval to construct a $200 million, primarily residential, expansion along Lancaster Avenue.
The university, prepared to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on construction may seem unrepentant in its refusal to pay what amounts to one fifth of one-percent of its annual operating budget, but is that the case? Villanova has no legal obligation to pay that amount to the township for any services and that money could be a bargaining chip in their battle to push for approval of building plans down the line.