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Nonprofits joining to make payments to city
Friday, February 25, 2005

The city's nonprofits stepped closer to collecting the $6 million in voluntary payments included in Pittsburgh's 2005 city budget today with the naming of a 12-member board to oversee the funding.

The board will act as a liaison between nonprofits -- such as hospitals, schools and churches -- and the city's state-appointed fiscal monitors, the Act 47 team and the oversight board.

The Rev. Ronald Lengwin, the community affairs director for the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, was named chairman, and G. Reynolds Clark, the University of Pittsburgh's vice chancellor for community and governmental relations, was named vice chairman.

In a statement issued this afternoon, Lengwin did not say when or how the "Public Service Fund" board will collect the $6 million but said the board is contacting all nonprofit organizations in the city "with invitations to participate."

The city's $417.5 million 2005 budget was balanced using the $33 million in spending cuts in the Act 47 plan, new payroll and occupation taxes recommended by the oversight board, and the call for $6 million from nonprofits.

Mayor Tom Murphy and others have long complained that nonprofits, despite owning more than 30 percent of the city's land, do not pay the property taxes that fund much of the city's budget.

Nonprofit officials have bristled at such comments, saying their institutions generate other revenues for the city (such as wage, amusement and parking taxes) and provide essential public services.

The nonprofits will step up to issue more funds to the city, his statement said, but only for three years while the city gets back on its feet.

"The purpose of the Pittsburgh Public Service Fund is to provide some support to the City of Pittsburgh in recognition of the city's extraordinary financial crisis," Lengwin stated. "Nonprofit organizations view themselves as good neighbors who already contribute millions of dollars in services to the city each year."

Other members of the "Public Service Fund" board are: JoAnne Burley, Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education; Esther Bush, Urban League of Pittsburgh; Jamie Egan, Ellis School and Pittsburgh Consortium of Independent Schools; Karen Feinstein, Jewish Healthcare Foundation; Lee Foster, Carnegie Museums & Library of Pittsburgh; George Huber, UMPC; Max King, The Heinz Endowments; Eric Mann, YMCA of Pittsburgh; David O'Brien, Highmark Blue Cross/Blue Shield; and Mark Weinstein, Pittsburgh Opera and Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council.

First published on February 25, 2005 at 12:00 am
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