He then goes on to compare and contrast our city's policy with some other well known cities (New Haven, Cleveland, Philadelphia). The verdict?
Figuring out how to pay for basic services while tax-exempt organizations control large blocks of land is a problem for cities nationwide.
Pittsburgh's solution has been to go hat-in-hand, asking nonprofit institutions to give the city whatever they can.
That's a "unique" approach to a national problem, said Evelyn Brody, a professor of law at Chicago-Kent College of Law and author of the book "Property-Tax Exemption for Charities: Mapping the Battlefield." Pittsburgh is "relying on something voluntary," she said, when most cities "are looking for something more certain."There was a deal in place between the city and a consortium called the Pittsburgh Public Service Fund. According to Lord, the group is made up of a little more than one hundred non-profits and had promised to make $13.25 million in donations to the city over three years.
Ending in 2007. And that's a problem.
But it's not the first time we've seen it.
Back in November, 2005 we saw a preliminary discussion of the city budget played out in the papers. And the gap between what the city could expect from the consortium was spelled out:
A consortium of nonprofit groups has said it doesn't plan to give the city money after 2007, but the city's plan counts on $5.7 million a year from such organizations through 2011.Again, Rich Lord on the city budget beat.
To be clear, Lord's article isn't necessarily about the budget (and as proof, he doesn't reuse Councilman Peduto's oft-used phrase "phantom revenue"). It's more about how other cities have other solutions to the same problem. He does get some info from Peduto:
Whatever the solution, it needs to be done right.
City Councilman William Peduto, a Democratic mayoral challenger, said the Connecticut model would be ideal, with the state paying a portion of the revenue cities lose to tax exemptions.
Barring state action, Mr. Peduto would like to see "a 20- to 40-year plan that focuses only on hospitals, universities and insurers." He would have them make payments based on the size of their payroll, just as for-profit businesses do.