The Student Labor Action Project marched around campus last year arguing for Penn to pay PILOTs, or voluntary contributions to the school district to offset the money not being given by Penn in property taxes. 

Credit: Greg Boyek

The communications director for Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney slammed Penn on Sunday for declining to make voluntary payments to the School District of Philadelphia in a tweetstorm, saying the school had not lived up to its "Civic Ivy" name.

Lauren Hitt, Kenney's spokesperson and a 2013 College graduate, first tweeted a link to an Inside Higher Education article that described how Penn does not have to pay property taxes to Philadelphia due to its nonprofit status. Public education advocates have urged Penn in recent years to make Payments in Lieu of Taxes, or PILOTs, a form of voluntary annual contributions to the school district. 

Though the University formerly did give PILOTs during a spate of years in the 1990s, Penn President Amy Gutmann has repeatedly refused to reintroduce the practice, citing the multimillion dollar contributions Penn has made to the Penn Alexander School and the wage taxes its employees pay the city. 

Hitt later said Penn was not only "morally wrong" on the PILOTs issue, but was making a "bad PR move" for a "university most known right now for producing Trump." 

When asked if her tweets portended any renewed focus on PILOTs in the city's budget for Kenney, a former instructor in the Fels Institute of Government, Hitt demurred, saying her words were just representative of "an upset alum." Kenney mentioned PILOTs in his March budget address to the Philadelphia City Council as a possible revenue source for the school district, but said they are "not going to get us the recurring revenue" needed to fund major city initiatives.

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