Monday, January 30, 2023
Pittsburgh Follows Familiar Script to Extract Payments In Lieu of Taxes
Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey displaying executive order requiring audits of nonprofits in Pittsburgh ensure they are "purely public charities."
Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey is following a familiar script in seeking to supplement the city's budget with up to $36 million in PILOTS from the city's nonprofit organizations. First, announce the City's budget is stretched to the limit, but the Mayor is holding the line against higher taxes. Second, note the presence of apparently wealthy nonprofits sitting around doing nothing while eating up more than their "fair share" of public services. Third, make explicit that tax exempts pay no taxes, free-riding all over the working and tax-paying folk. Fourth suggest some sort of legal scrutiny, short of legal process because the City would lose probably. Fifth, ride the media circuit shaming the big nonprofits for bringing nothing to the cookout. Sixth, wait until one of the big nonprofits --UPMC, Pitt, Duquesne or Carnegie Mellon -- get tired of bad press and finally just pay up. Wash, rinse, repeat. You can watch Mayor Gainey's the press conference here. The City has even established an email address citizens can use to report the untaxed excesses of nonprofits, including excessive compensation practices. Tax law in the court of public opinion, I guess.