This has been a taboo subject for years (actually decades) in the Town of Brunswick and town officials have always been afraid to discuss it with Bowdoin College. I, as a taxpayer in Brunswick, am not afraid to bring this issue up. I think it is time that Brunswick officials choose a liaison to sit down and talk to Bowdoin College and ask them to contribute larger amounts in lieu of taxes (they call it “gift-in-kind”) to Brunswick.

Many residents feel the Bowdoin College gift-in-kind should be at least $500,000 this year and every year and more than likely more than that.

It goes way back to the early ‘60s when Bowdoin College decided to build the Senior Tower, now known as Coles Tower. Brunswick realized they needed to buy a fire truck that could reach the top of the building in case of fire as we did not have one. Brunswick also realized that we would have no place to park it so we had to add on to the Central Fire Station.

These two items were paid for at 100 percent by Brunswick taxpayers as we got no help from Bowdoin College. My father was on the Board of Selectmen at that time and he said that residents in town were furious that taxpayers had to spend all that money so we would have equipment to fight a fire on a tall building that Bowdoin was going to build.

In early 1964 while Coles Tower was under construction, they had a fire and we then had the equipment to put it out. Bowdoin College bursar Thomas Libby sent a check on February 27 for $750 to Brunswick Town Manager John Bibber to cover expenses of the fire.

Moving forward to 2016, according to their webpage, Bowdoin College had an endowment of $1.4 billion and their gift-in-kind to the Town of Brunswick was only $167,200 for the tax year 2016-17. Now for the real issue at hand. In that year, they were only taxed on $6,278,100 so they only paid $ 179,772 in property taxes, while their tax exempt property was listed as $153,986,900.

Moving forward to the 2017-18 property taxes after the re-evaluation has been done, Bowdoin College only pays property taxes on $11,225,400 to the Town of Brunswick. They are only paying property taxes in the amount of $206,210.59.

Now for the kicker! This year their tax exempt property is assessed at $165,026,000, which means that the Town of Brunswick is shorted over $3 million in taxes Bowdoin College does not pay. This can all be verified by going to the Town of Brunswick webpage, then to the finance page and pull up the property taxes, which I have done and am appalled that we only get a pittance from Bowdoin College every year.

Another sore spot is the fact that the Brunswick School Department has to pay Bowdoin College for the use of their building for BHS graduation services every year, and we even have to pay for the use of the chairs. The school department also has to pay for the use of the hockey arena for the BHS hockey team practice time, and last year alone it amounted to over $30,000.

I do realize Bowdoin College feels that they give enough to this town, when in reality they don’t. What many don’t realize is that every time Bowdoin College buys another property here in town, it means it goes off the tax rolls as the college keeps sprawling out and there seems to be no end to it.

I am not the only resident in Brunswick that feels this way so I have decided to approach the subject and bring it into the open for all to see as I am not afraid to speak up any longer. I just hope it gives everyone a wakeup call and hopefully Bowdoin College will step up to the plate from here on out and give more to the town in lieu of taxes (gift in kind).

Brunswick officials also need to be willing to sit down and talk to Bowdoin College as it won’t be rectified if no one is willing to talk about it. I also realize this opinion may cause a lot of backlash in town, but it is time it was approached and be out in the open.

Jean Powers
Brunswick