Pittsburgh City Councilor Natalia Rudiak has called a televised post agenda meeting to examine the economic and social impacts of the large tax-exempt non-profits, with a focus on the region's largest non-profit and employer, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC).
The post agenda meeting will take place today, Tuesday, June 26, at 1 p.m. in City Council Chambers, and will welcome testimony from subject matter experts, including the county controller, city controller, academic researchers, and community leaders.
UPMC, a $10 billion "global health enterprise," is the region's largest health care provider that employs over 55,000 individuals - nearly all of its land holdings and business operations within the city of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County are exempt from municipal and school property taxes, as well as the payroll preparation tax.
The Office of County Controller Chelsa Wagner will present preliminary findings from a forthcoming report on the impact of these tax-exemptions on county revenue and services, and City Controller Michael Lamb will present information on impacts on the City of Pittsburgh.
"In Allegheny County alone, we lose $95 million in revenue every year because of property tax exemptions," Ms. Wagner said. "While some are justified, for places like churches, others are plainly unfair. These breaks are hurting real people, because public transit, human services, education and overall quality of life continue to decline. The recent Supreme Court decision gives our local governments the tool we need to finally challenge these loopholes."
Additionally, many service workers at UPMC are not making family-sustaining wages. Roughly half of the service workers at UPMC make less than $12 per hour, and are capped at $13-14 per hour, while the living wage to support a family of four in Pittsburgh is $25.40 per hour.
Testimony by a University of Pittsburgh Professor and Steve Herzenberg, executive director of the Keystone Research Center, will trace Pittsburgh's transition from a manufacturing-based economy to a service-based economy, and how this transition has influenced wages and family support systems.
"Given City Council's recent discussion of a voluntary service fund agreement with the city's largest non-profits institutions, and our ongoing efforts to maintain critical services and safe communities, it's essential to understand the full picture," said
Ms. Rudiak. «We can›t strive for the best public services without having an honest discussion about revenue, just like we can›t expect to grow a robust regional economy without good middle class jobs.»
City Council members, other elected officials, and UPMC CEO Jeffrey
Romoff have been invited to join the discussion.