THURSDAY: PUBLIC HEARING ON STATE ACT 55 FOR NON-PROFITS AND TAX EXEMPTIONS

This coming Thursday, August 30, the Pennsylvania Senate Finance Committee will hold a public hearing to “review” Act 55 of 1997, the Purely Public Charities Act.

The hearing will be held in Pittsburgh, in our humble City Council chambers, from 9:00 AM until noon.

Act 55 is the law that allows hospitals, health insurers, and universities to avoid property taxation and other civic responsibilities.

Critics argue that Act 55 must be amended to distinguish these enormously profitable “mega-nonprofits” from religious organizations and genuine charities.

The agenda for the public hearing is as follows:

9:00 – Thomas Boyle of Buchanon Ingersoll & Rooney; Ed Weisgerber of Kirkpatrick & Lockhardt Preston Gates Ellis

9:45 – Scott Kunka, City Finance Director; Ron Pferdehirt, Assistant City Solicitor

10:30 – Robert DeMichiei, Chief Financial Officer, UPMC

11:00 – Jack Owen, Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations

One would hope that the 9:45 contingent will argue stridently on behalf of overburdened city taxpayers, in favor of common-sense amendments that will shore-up our famously desperate financial condition.

The Comet will have much to say on the subject as the hearing approaches, but right now we trust our readers are already well-enough informed to begin writing letters and making phone calls — not to mention finding sitters and making excuses for Thursday.

However, we would like you to check out this WTAE piece headlined Pittsburgh Talks Taxes With Nonprofit Groups; UPMC Has Big Year.

Does it make any sense that UPMC gets to be represented by a man in a priest’s collar, seated next to a statue of Jesus?

6 thoughts on “THURSDAY: PUBLIC HEARING ON STATE ACT 55 FOR NON-PROFITS AND TAX EXEMPTIONS

  1. Mark Rauterkus

    Fr. Ron L isn’t ‘representing UPMC.’ He is the talking head of the Pgh Service Fund.As in the game of ‘chess,’ the bishop is an important player. I have no problem with a maga divide between church and state. The state would, if it could, try to tax everything that moves. Taxing things that limp and move more slowly is easier — so tax the sick and injured.

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  2. Bram Reichbaum

    And in turn, the Pgh Service Fund represents UPMC and the other Megas. That is its purpose.If you were to divide the Pgh Service Fund on a pie chart in terms of its property tax value, to say nothing of revenues, how much of it would belong to the hospitals et. all? Almost all of it? Yet they enjoy the outsized PR value of the church.

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  3. Anonymous

    I really don’t think it is too much to ask for most of the “non-profits” out there to pay their fair share and help the City out. Of course they will turn around and say that they are paying with the service provided to the public, but last time I checked we all pay for our health insurance and to go to college!

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  4. Catholic 4 Life

    BramAre you saying that the religous institutions are there as advocates for UPMC and not the religous groups they are affiliated with?or that as religous groups they do not deserve to be heard or that they should be paying taxes as well? Do you think UPMC and a church should be using the same formula to pay their fair share? One major difference is that the UPMC’s of the world are making hundreds of millions of dollars in profit eacch year, and paying nothing.Churches, and community groups such as the YMCA or VFW are non profit and are there to serve the community. Not sure why you are hating the Catholic Church here?

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  5. Bram Reichbaum

    Rest assured I do not mean to impugn the Catholic Church.“Are you saying that the religous institutions are there as advocates for UPMC and not the religous groups they are affiliated with?or that as religous groups they do not deserve to be heard or that they should be paying taxes as well? Do you think UPMC and a church should be using the same formula to pay their fair share?”I guess I am saying the former. Although I respect their right to speak out, I do not understand what motivates certain clerics to entangle themselves with big business.Many of them did not, and are not.I am not suggesting that churches and charities be taxed like profitable industries. That’s why I favor amending the law to distinguish sensibly between the two.When Bishop Zubik comes out in favor of Act 55 as currently written, I suppose then I will have an issue with the Catholic Church. Maybe someone should ask him. I suspect he would not offer a spirited endorsement.

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  6. Mark Rauterkus

    I’m upset that I was not given the opportunity to speak at the ‘public hearing.’ I called before the final schedule was done. I only asked for 4 minutes.The Allegheny County Libertarian Party (and I) have some ideas as to how Act 55 could work in the future.I’ll still submit my testimony in writing.

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