Saturday, November 07, 2009

Fee.... Fie Fo, Fum

This morning the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that
Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato on Friday vetoed a bill that would impose a fee on nonprofit groups, saying the bill County Council passed is illegal and exposes the county to a lawsuit it would have little chance of winning.

"While the bill ostensibly imposes a 'fee' for general county services, it appears to be an attempt to circumvent commonwealth law and impose real estate taxes on otherwise exempt real property in a non-uniform matter," Onorato wrote in a letter to council.

County Council President Rich Fitzgerald said he's not sure whether his colleagues will vote to override Onorato's veto. Council on Wednesday passed the bill to collect fees for "essential services" such as public safety and public works from hospitals, universities and other nonprofit groups. It exempted churches, K-12 schools, food banks, shelters and certain other nonprofit groups.


Onorato wrote that the county fee would violate the state's Home Rule Charter and Charter Law by expanding the county's taxing powers.

In the letter, he said that he is "making headway" with state officials to get nonprofit contributions. Evanto said Onorato hopes to get $4 million by 2011 for county services.
This story is worth watching for us in Centre County. Forty percent of Pittsburgh's real-estate is owned by tax-exempt organizations which puts a big strain on the city and county budget. Sound familiar?  If this is resolved in favor of the local governments, then State College Borough and Centre County government would be in a position of getting more funding from Penn State.

BTW, this is not the first I've written about the non-profit situation in Pittsburgh and the implications for our region.

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