Pittsburgh's budget approved -- provided Ravenstahl opens dealings with nonprofits

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State overseers this morning approved the city's 2013 budget with the condition that Mayor Luke Ravenstahl revamp and shine a light on the process for securing contributions from nonprofit groups.

Dana Yealy, chairman of Pennsylvania's Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, said he wants Mr. Ravenstahl to appoint a task force by year's end to see how similar-sized cities handle nonprofit contributions and devise a new strategy for determining how much nonprofits here should pay.

Mr. Yealy insisted that confidentiality surrounding nonprofit contributions be eliminated.

Last week, the state Office of Open Records ordered the city to provide the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette with all agreements it has with nonprofits that make payments in lieu of property taxes. The city had refused to release the documents, partly because of confidentiality provisions.

The city has not yet turned over the documents. It may appeal the state's decision to Common Pleas Court.

The city has such agreements with 10 to 20 nonprofits.

In addition, the city has an agreement with a consortium of nonprofits called the Pittsburgh Public Service Fund, which identifies its members and discloses total contribution amounts but does not disclose individual groups' contributions.

Mr. Yealy said he wants all such confidentiality to disappear.

Next year, the city anticipates about $3.2 million in contributions from nonprofit groups.

"The ICA shares the concern of many city residents, businesses and elected leaders regarding the level of and long-term commitment from the nonprofit community to the city of Pittsburgh's budget," Mr. Yealy said in a letter to Mr. Ravenstahl today.

Mr. Yealy said he wants the task force to make its report to the authority by June. He said in-kind contributions from nonprofits should be included in an analysis of what nonprofits provide, or should provide, to the city.

The 2012 budget anticipates revenues of $470.2 million and expenditures of $469 million.

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Joe Smydo: jsmydo@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1548.


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