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Fair Share Knocks on Bok's Door

TAXES

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

"Nobody's home," Captain Jack Morse of University police told 40 Boston citizens Wednesday when they came to Mass Hall to see President Bok and ask Harvard to double the amount it pays to the city of Boston as taxes and in-lieu-of-tax payments.

University officials often have a way of being unavailable when large groups of angry people appear with pickets and public address systems, making demands.

Leaders of the Boston Fair Share property tax coalition sent Bok a letter September 10 stating, "We, the citizens of Boston, pay an oppressive property tax and yet watch our services diminished daily due to fiscal problems. Harvard University, with an endowment of $1.2 billion, owns a considerable amount of land in the City of Boston and yet pays a minimum to the city."

Harvard-owned land is tax-exempt, as is any land a university owns. But Harvard officials say the University pays more than $2 million to the city in the form of required and voluntary payments.

The required payments are all made on a housing development financed by Citicorp, a large private banking firm. The voluntary payments are made on an energy plant project and a housing development. Harvard chose to commit itself to making those payments in return for city zoning exemptions that made the construction possible, Robin Schmidt, vice president for government and community affairs, said this week.

Boston Fair Share's September 10 letter set a date when the group would come to Bok's office, seeking to discuss the situation with Bok or a designated official.

But two University police officers formed the reception committee at Mass Hall this week, and the only Harvard official who talked to the group was Archie C. Epps III, dean of students. And all Epps suggested was that they speak with Donald C. Moulton, assistant vice president for community affairs.

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