Mayor forms task force on nonprofit payments

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Complying with a directive from state overseers, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl on Thursday invited business and civic leaders to serve on a new task force to study future contributions from nonprofits.

The task force must be formed by year's end, according to requirements that the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority imposed Oct. 16 in approving the city's 2013 operating budget.

The group is to examine how other cities handle nonprofit contributions and make recommendations regarding the "level, length and form of support from the nonprofit sector to the city of Pittsburgh," Dana Yealy, authority chairman, said in a letter to Mr. Ravenstahl.

Mr. Ravenstahl sent invitations Thursday asking more than 30 representatives of government and the academic, business, foundation, nonprofit and organized labor communities to serve on the task force. Mayoral spokeswoman Marissa Doyle declined to identify the invitees, but in a statement, the mayor's office promised that the group would operate in the transparent manner that overseers requested.

"Task force meetings will be public, and a report is expected to be submitted by June 30 ... Other details and logistics will be determined once the invitees confirm their participation and the task force conducts its first meeting," the statement said.

Gov. Tom Corbett and leaders of the four legislative caucuses were invited to appoint representatives. In addition, members of the public have until Dec. 21 to apply for a seat on the task force.

"We recommend city residents, but will accept all applications," Ms. Doyle said in an email.

Applicants may submit their names and statements of interest to nonprofitsectorsupport@pittsburghpa.gov or mail the information to Nonprofit Sector Support Task Force, Room 526, City-County Building, 414 Grant St., Pittsburgh 15219.

Some officials and residents are increasingly concerned about nonprofit groups that don't pay payroll-preparation taxes and are exempt from property taxes on some or all of the real estate they own. Tax-exemptions for the UPMC health system have been particularly criticized.

Some nonprofits make voluntary contributions or payments in lieu of taxes, but those payments are not necessarily tied to the size of their payrolls or to the size or value of their real estate holdings.

The city's largest source of nonprofit contributions comes from the Pittsburgh Public Service Fund, a consortium whose agreements with the city are renegotiated every couple of years.

The city's 2013 budget counts on about $3.2 million from nonprofits. In directing Mr. Ravenstahl to form the task force, Mr. Yealy said he wanted a predictable schedule of nonprofit payments and a new, public formula for determining what those payments will be. He said in-kind contributions should be part of the formula.

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


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