Thursday, December 10, 2009

Not free money

From the PG:

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said today that if the city's universities can't identify $5 million in contributions to his government's operations by Monday, he will urge city council to vote for a 1 percent tuition tax on Wednesday.

"If they come up with a $5 million annual contribution to the city of Pittsburgh, we would in turn be willing to remove the Fair Share Tax from the table," he said, using his term for the tuition levy.

He said the figure is less than the $6 million-per-year contribution he believes the city's tax-exempt institutions agreed to in 2004, and represents just one-third of the $15 million the city needs to replenish its pension fund. Not just the universities, but other tax-exempt institutions could contribute to a $5 million contribution, he said, adding that the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center might be excused due to its $10 million-a-year pledge to the Pittsburgh Promise for college tuition aid.

Read more:


Mark Rauterkus said...

Luke is on the wrong path with this.

My solution is different. He should focus on land. The city is mostly just a place. Pittsburgh has borders and only so many square inches. The land-grab over the years of Pitt taking over Oakland, and so on, have been huge. The main tax, and the one tax with the most "fairness" and best sense of justice, IMNSHO, is based upon land ownership. The nonprofits do NOT pay taxes on their land holdings. So, the total footprint of nonprofit land holdings should shrink. If they want to grow, force them to build upward, on less land, but with higher buildings. If nonprofit land holdings, from stadiums to churches to universities to schools to jails to empty lots and all else had a major contraction -- then more land would be taxed and more value for all would increase. A win-win unfolds for the economy and citizens / ratepayers.

They own too much land. Shrinking that into less is what Pittsburgh needs. They can manage their assets, and they can increase their cooperation -- without being taxed. Put more offices into leased, and taxed spaces as booms occur.

Questioner said...

This idea has some precedent in Pittsburgh b/c reportedly, the reason so many large old homes are on relatively small pieces of land is that at the time the homes were built (late 1800/early 1900) taxes were determined by the amount of land used, regardless of what sat on the land.

Questioner said...

This is what infrastructure problems look like:

Where will the city find the problem to address (and better yet prevent) events like this?