Monday, November 07, 2005

Council postpones vote on payments by nonprofits

A big part of the discussion about the nonprofit centered upon the UPMC owned facility on the South Side that is rented, in part to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Pitt for its male-only football team.

This facility is what drove me to get involved in politics. The planning was goofy to me then, as a newbie in this realm. The promises that were made have been broken. It wasn't square from the get-go.

UPMC, a nonprofit, purchased the prime riverfront land from the URA (city owned Urban Redevelopment Authority). The land came at a bargain price. These 30 acres were sold, and deals were struck, so that the Steelers could have a place to practice. A practice field on the North Side was taken with the building of Heinz Field.

A PLIOT -- Payment In Lieu of Taxes -- was struck. Or, so the joke was told.

This happened years ago. Back then I was not okay with the sale of the land. I was not happy with the design of the dwarf football fields. I was not okay with the pledge of community access. I was not happy to see the loss of tax incomes by selling the land to a nonprofit owner. I objected. I spoke up. My protest, and that of some others as well, got the new owners, UPMC, to dump some additional money back into the community. I call that 'hush money.' The $6,000 grant offer from Jerry D was laughed at and the amount went up ten-fold from one meeting to the next. He is long gone from UPMC's administration. I'm still here. I'm still with a vivid memory of the broken promises too.

Now at the city council meeting, today, the deal got twisted again. The money that UPMC is paying for the land is still part of the sales agreement. Say what? That needs to be put on tape. But then again, the weirdness came from Sala Udin, a URA Board member and long-time 'yes man' to Mayor Murphy. Sala's time on council is ending shortly.

Sala's statements need to be researched. If nothing else, that deal needs to be unlocked and put in the open -- finally.
Council postpones vote on payments by nonprofits Mr. Shields called that 'circular logic' and said the obvious solution would be the release to council of all existing agreements with nonprofit organizations. 'What's the rush to this?' he said of the contract vote. 'The agreement before us is incomplete.'
One long-term solution to these nonprofit struggles should be the construction of a land-expansion-moratorium for the whole nonprofit community. We need to do a complete inventory of land. This needs to be cataloged by year in square foot. And, the trend has to be put in reverse.

Mayor Murphy was happy to give away land to nonprofits. Then he is quick to cry the blues because so much land is owned by the nonprofits.

I've been talking about the crisis of nonprofit land ownership for years -- and that was the reason I jumped into politics.

Now there are others who are finally starting to 'think again.'

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Council postpones vote on payments by nonprofits

Monday, November 07, 2005
By Rich Lord, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

A narrow majority on Pittsburgh City Council today delayed a proposed contract with a nonprofit consortium that would bring the cash-poor city $13.2 million in revenue over three years. The council majority said not enough information has been provided.

The payments would come from at least 94 hospitals and healthcare systems, universities and other tax-exempt institutions. Under the proposed contract, contributors would be freed from any existing agreements they have now to make payments in lieu of taxes to the city.

The Pittsburgh Public Service Fund, which represents the contributing nonprofit organizations, has said it won't provide a list of the donors until council approves the contract.

Councilman Doug Shields said he has requested copies of those existing agreements but the administration has not yet provided them. He said the administration has argued that it cannot determine which agreements would be canceled, since it doesn't yet know who the contributors under the proposed new contract would be.

Mr. Shields called that "circular logic" and said the obvious solution would be the release to council of all existing agreements with nonprofit organizations. "What's the rush to this?" he said of the contract vote. "The agreement before us is incomplete."

Joining him in voting to delay consideration of the contract were Twanda Carlisle, William Peduto, Luke Ravenstahl and Council President Gene Ricciardi.

Administration spokesman Craig Kwiecinski said all agreements were in the hands of city Treasurer Rich Fees, who is away today. He said the agreements would be assembled as soon as Mr. Fees returned and would be provided to council and the media.

A final council vote could occur on Nov. 15.