University City to form task force addressing relationship with WU

Grace Stohr | Contributing Reporter

University City Council will form a task force to address the city’s relationship with Washington University.

The council hopes the task force will foster a stronger and more communicative relationship between University City and the University, specifically with regards to the University’s financial impact on the surrounding area.

Number of WU properties by street

According to U. City Councilman Tim Cusick, the task force is designed to evaluate the effect the University has on the city.

“Mr. Rose, the University City City Manager, has expressed the desire for an impact study to be performed, by an independent agency, to specifically address what the impact is upon University City by Washington University,” Cusick wrote in a statement to Student Life.

Cusick believes the task force is necessary to mediate what he calls an unequal relationship between U. City and the University.

“There is an imbalance between University City and Washington University. And that University City is suffering from this imbalance,” Cusick wrote.

The University pays U. City around 114,000 dollars per year, according to Carr, but does not pay property taxes due to its nonprofit status.

“Washington University does not pay a single cent to University City from all of their property holdings that are within University City. With every parcel of real property purchased and taken over by Washington University, the real estate taxes from that property are removed from our tax base,” Cusick wrote.

According to Cusick, U. City residents suffer as a result of this. They either face higher taxes or a decrease in funding for essential services such as the fire and police departments, emergency medical services and libraries.

“We can either cut our city budget further, thereby eliminating further essential services, or we can raise our property taxes, again,” Cusick wrote.

Councilwoman Paulette Carr said that she found that the residents of U. City are frustrated by the high taxes and the “unbalanced” relationship between them and the University.

“The overriding sentiment expressed to me by University City residents is that they want Washington University to at least pay their fair share, thereby reducing the burden [Wash. U.] has placed on the individual University City taxpayer and the City,” Carr wrote in statement to Student Life.

Additionally, Carr believes U. City residents are frustrated because of the imbalance between what the University brings to Clayton and St. Louis City and what it brings to U. City.

“[Wash. U.] pays Clayton $300,000/year for fire and EMS services for their main campus (and has for many years), which is an unincorporated part of St. Louis County,” Carr wrote. “[Wash. U.] brings many highly-paid jobs to St. Louis City at the medical schools and hospitals, where each person who works or lives in St. Louis City pays an earnings tax of 1% of their income.”

Cusick hopes the formation of the task force will lead to the University addressing these issues.

“I feel strongly that as our immediate neighbor to the south, Washington University must be more engaged in the welfare of all of University City,” Cusick wrote. “The Chancellor and other administrators of Washington University must recognize the direct impact Washington University has on the daily lives of the residents of University City.”

In response to the plans for the task force, the University released an official statement regarding their involvement in the task force.

“Washington University and University City have worked together on many projects and we look forward to continuing conversations about issues of mutual benefit,” Washington University Director of Communication Relations and Local Government Affairs JoAnna Schooler wrote.

Related coverage from our Editorial Board: Be a good neighbor