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July 03, 2012

Pittsburgh Passes Nonprofit Payment Plan, Memphis Mulls Same

The Pittsburgh City Council approved a deal with a nonprofit coalition Monday that will provide the city with $5.2-million to $5.4-million in lieu of taxes over the next two years, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.

About 40 nonprofit groups will contribute to the Pittsburgh Public Service Fund, which supplied a like amount to city coffers in in 2010-11. Some council members have called for a sharp increase in charities' payments in lieu of property taxes, and the new measure included an amendment directing finance officials to determine how much the city spends on police, fire, and other services for tax-exempt entities.

The participating groups, many of them smaller charities, represent a small proportion of the city's tax-exempt organizations. Nonprofits "are good partners, but they could be better partners," Councilman Ricky Burgess, the panel's finance chairman, said at Monday's meeting.

In Memphis, city lawmakers were due to vote Tuesday on a proposal to explore seeking similar payments from local charities, The Commercial Appeal says.

"We want to see if this is feasible, and if it is feasible, how much revenue it could generate," said Janis Fullilove, the council member who sponsored the resolution calling on the council to form a committee to explore the idea.

About 30 percent of the Tennessee city's property is held by nonprofit entities. Ms. Fullilove said the panel would focus on groups with more than $15-million in annual gross revenue.