Partners HealthCare — the nonprofit that operates Mass. General and Brigham and Women’s hospitals — may be Boston’s single most important corporate entity. It brings billions of dollars, tens of thousands of jobs, and priceless amounts of prestige. It also attracts millions of workers, patients, and visitors. But there’s the rub: If any of the visitors should get into a car accident, the Boston police will disentangle it. If someone slips and falls, Boston EMT will answer the call. If, heaven forbid, there were a fire or other catastrophic event at any of the hospitals, the Boston Fire Department is prepared to undertake the most dauntless of rescues.
But Partners’ contribution to Boston’s tax coffers is relatively tiny — roughly $7 million per year, plus an equivalent amount of community givebacks, on what would be a property tax liability of $92 million. Some Boston taxpayers steam over tax deals for Liberty Mutual or the new Millennium tower, but to a substantial extent, homeowners subsidize services to Partners. It’s a justified tradeoff, given what Partners means for Boston, but it relies on a good-faith commitment on both sides: Taxpayers recognize Partners’ unusual status, and Partners strives to make it pay dividends to Boston.