By Jacob Seibel, Wilkes-Barre Citizens Voice
WILKES-BARRE — The two city-based colleges on Thursday announced they are upping their annual contributions to Wilkes-Barre by almost 50 percent.
Wilkes University and King’s College are nonprofit institutions and don’t pay taxes, but they do give voluntary payments in lieu of taxes. The contributions will increase by an average of 47 percent, amounting to a combined $200,000 a year for Wilkes-Barre.
The increase is meant to give the city additional budgetary flexibility to address current and future needs, according to a joint news release from the colleges.
“This is a bold move on behalf of our institutions of higher education,” Wilkes-Barre Mayor Tony George said. “It recognizes the value of the services the city provides to the two institutions while helping my administration increase services to all city residents.”
The voluntary payments are in addition to the numerous contributions both institutions of higher education make to the city’s economic health and quality of life, the release said.
Additionally, the colleges contribute more than $60,000 to the city’s Business Improvement District, which is a separate funding source that helps provide supplementary services to downtown property owners and businesses.
“King’s College was established to be a resource for the people of Wilkes-Barre and the surrounding communities,” said King’s College President Fr. John Ryan, C.S.C. “The success of King’s and higher education in Wilkes-Barre depends directly on the ongoing prosperity of the city. By investing in Wilkes-Barre, we’re investing in our own futures.”
As both institutions prepare for the future, ensuring their campuses are part of a vibrant, safe city will be increasingly important to attracting undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, federal and state funding, and alumni donations, both presidents said.
“I have said many times that the future of Wilkes University and the city is inextricably linked,” said Wilkes University President Dr. Patrick F. Leahy. “That is why we will continue to be a major contributor to the economic and cultural development of the city. Part of our founding mission was to contribute to the region’s economic prosperity by providing access to higher education.”