LOWELL -- City officials and UMass Lowell are working on a new master agreement that will make more transparent the contributions the university makes to the city for property it owns.
Leaders from both sides met this week and will continue negotiating the agreement.
The two sides are working to create a single, broad document that would lay out contributions the university makes as a nonprofit entity that is not required to pay property taxes. It could also stipulate that university officials brief the City Council annually on its master plan.
UMass Lowell Chancellor Jacqueline Moloney said many of the arrangements are "win-win" for both the city and the university.
"We recognize that these types of agreements only work when both sides benefit, and I am optimistic that we can achieve that," she said.
Both sides said they are making progress after hitting a rough patch recently in the relationship.
"I think things are moving along very well," City Manager Kevin Murphy said.
The university has several agreements in place to pay set amounts, such as for the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center. University officials say they are not able to enter into formal payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreements, as some other nonprofits do.
City officials were frustrated that UMass Lowell did not provide advance notice on its plans to buy the Perkins Park residential mill development, which will mean $321,000 less in annual property tax revenue for the city.
As the university has expanded, buying up what were once tax-paying properties, some city officials have questioned whether that growth is necessarily good for Lowell.
A recent city report estimated that if UMass Lowell were to pay property taxes at the same rate that a typical property owner does, it would have paid the city nearly $1.9 million in fiscal 2015. The university has touted other contributions it makes, such as pitching in toward planned bridge repairs, Lower Locks parking garage repairs and various other repair or maintenance projects that benefit both the university and city.