Local News

Durham Leaders Consider Taxing Duke

Posted March 18, 1998

— As a non-profit, university, Duke enjoys tax-exempt status, but now some in Durham say it's time for the free ride to end and for the university to start giving in the form of taxes.

A Durham City Councilman says if Duke paid what he thinks is the university's fair share, it would save the average taxpayer $165 a year. Duke, on the other hand, says it benefits the city with its medical center, sports teams, and graduates, but Durham is still asking the Blue Devils to get out their check book.

One reason the city gives for its stance is the fiery celebrations after winning Duke sporting events. Some Durham officials say this is a loss for the city. The fire department is frequently called to these events and the university doesn't pay for city services. Council member Floyd McKissick says the city is losing millions.

If Duke was a taxable entity, a university study shows the school would owe $15 million a year in local taxes. No one at Duke is volunteering a $15 million check, but Duke spokesperson John Burness says the school already pick up its fair share.

McKissick, a Duke law school graduate, says he'd be happy if his alma mater paid $2 million a year, but the Blue Devils won't budge.

Duke doesn't want to talk about it, but Durham is headed to the state legislature. The city is asking the general assembly for legislation that would allow it to charge Duke for fire service.

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