Senator Fontana participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony at the renovated Beechview branch of the Carnegie Library on Saturday, July 18th and spoke at a Preview Reception at the library on Thursday, July 16th. The library’s $3.2 million renovation includes a new entrance way, ADA accessibility, a teen/young adult room, community meeting space, and a reconfigured children’s area.
Time for Large Nonprofits to Pay Their Fair Share
A New Jersey Tax Court judge ruled at the end of the June that the Morristown Medical Center failed to meet the legal test that it operated as a nonprofit, charitable organization for the tax years 2006 through 2008. Even though the medical center offers free medical care to poor patients, the ruling shows that others are taking notice that the hospital has evolved far from its charitable roots. As a result, other nonprofit organizations in New Jersey, especially hospitals and universities, fear that this ruling may encourage municipalities to also challenge their property tax exemptions.
The 5,500 employee Morristown Medical Center case has been in court since 2008, when the town’s tax assessor denied the hospital’s exemption for three years. Tax Court Judge Vito Bianco followed up on his ruling by saying that “Nonprofit hospitals have changed significantly, however, from their early origins as charitable alms houses providing free basic medical treatment to the infirm poor. Today they are sophisticated centers of medical care, and in some cases, education, providing a litany of medical services regardless of a patient’s ability to pay.” Furthermore, the medical center appears functionally similar to for-profit hospitals, Bianco said, operating as “labyrinthine corporate structures, intertwined with both non-profit and for-profit subsidiaries and unaffiliated corporate entities.”
Although Judge Bianco’s rulings only affects our neighboring state, I‘m encouraged by the implications this could have for Pennsylvania. Many of today’s nonprofits generate significant revenues and are competitive even by for-profit standards. With about 40 percent of the city of Pittsburgh’s land being exempt from property taxes because of their nonprofit status, we must find ways to make up the $620 million difference in untapped revenue. Instead, the lost revenue falls in the hands of city residents and for-profit entities so that we all are still provided with police protection, fire assistance, road paving and maintenance, lighting, snow removal and social services.
For several years now I have introduced legislation that would require very large nonprofits to pay their fair share in taxes. Specifically, my Senate Bill 945 (SB 945) and Senate Bill 946 (SB 946) would require nonprofit organizations to pay taxes on the assessed value of their land. An exemption for the first $500,000 of land value is included in the legislation to protect smaller organizations such as health clinics, charitable organizations and churches to allow them to continue their missions. In addition, land conservancies whose primary function is the preservation of open space, natural areas or wildlife and all buildings, enterprises and improvements within the grounds of the land conservancy will be exempted from SB 945 and SB 946. I feel that larger companies have been achieving record profits as the economy is rebounding while the city continues to suffer substantial revenue loss.
It has been estimated that Pittsburgh alone would gain approximately $127 million in revenue if my legislation would be signed into law. Yet, mega universities and hospitals reap the benefits of our local resources but continue to receive a free ride. Why aren’t SB 945 and SB 946 receiving more attention when it is clear that other states around us are seeing the writing on the wall?
11th Annual FontanaFest!
The 11th annual FontanaFest is scheduled for Saturday, August 22nd from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. and will once again be held at Highmark Stadium, home of the Pittsburgh Riverhounds!
The annual community event is perfect for families and children, promoting healthy and active lifestyles by providing many fun activities and crafts. Attendees also are provided with the opportunity to engage with several organizations from around the region and receive important information on available services and programs, nutrition, health care, jobs and jobs training. Lunch and beverages will be provided, and once again, IT’S ALL FREE!
Make sure you save the date, Saturday, August 22nd, and stay tuned throughout the summer for updated information on the 11th annual FontanaFest!
Flu/Pneumonia Shot & Senior Clinic
I will be hosting my annual Flu/Pneumonia Shot & Senior Clinic on Friday, September 25th from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. in Quinn Hall at the Church of the Resurrection in Brookline. American HealthCare Group will be providing free vaccinations to any senior with the Medicare Part B health insurance card. Make sure to bring your card with you.
I am also pleased that several organizations from around the region will be present to provide seniors with important information on available services and resources including AARP, the Office of the Consumer Advocate and the PA APPRISE Health Insurance Counseling Program, to name a few. I will continue to update you with additional information on this year’s Flu/Pneumonia Shot & Senior Clinic later this summer.
Combined Gaming Revenue Increases
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board announced last week that over $3.1 billion of gross revenue was generated during the recently completed 2014/2015 State Fiscal Year from the combined play of slot machines and table games. This figure represents more than a two percent increase over the previous Fiscal Year. Total combined revenue from casino gaming during this past Fiscal Year was $3,115,525,984 compared to revenue of $3,051,765,460 during Fiscal Year 2013/14, an increase of 2.09 percent. Combined tax revenue from slot machines and table games for the 2014/15 Fiscal Year was $1,359,175,488.
Over $67 million in table games revenue was generated during June 2015, a 16 percent increase compared to June 2014. That revenue boosted total table games revenue during the 2014/2015 Fiscal Year to almost $780 million, a 6.5 percent increase over the 2013/2014 Fiscal Year. Total tax revenue from table games during Fiscal Year 2014/2015 was $112,158,589.
The state’s gaming industry employs over 17,700 people and generates an average of $3.7 million per day in tax revenue from both slot machines and table games. For more information on gaming in Pennsylvania and to read reports from the Gaming Control Board, please visit them online at www.gamingcontrolboard.pa.gov.
Driving Courses Can Reduce Insurance Rates
The Pennsylvania Insurance Department wants to remind all drivers over the age of 55 that state law requires a minimum five percent discount on insurance rates for any driver age 55 or over that completes a PennDOT approved motor vehicle driver improvement course. These discounts are good for three years, beginning with the next policy period following successful completion of the course. Anyone interested in finding a listing of PennDOT approved courses can click here. Course fees vary with each organization. Drivers should check with their insurance carrier for specifics of their program.
Did You Know…
Did you know the number of highway deaths in Pennsylvania in 2014 was 1,195, marking the lowest total since recordkeeping began in 1928?
Mark your calendars for the upcoming Beechview Reunion on Saturday, August 1st from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. along Broadway Avenue as the Beechview neighborhood celebrates its 110th Anniversary.
There will be food, fun and surprises for everyone. Some of the family-friendly activities include a minibus tour shuttle, live music, a dancing review, strolling magician, interactive teen activity, moon bounce and children's activities. Attendees can also enjoy a photo booth, genealogy session, Beechview historical displays and digital scanning of your photographs to be added to the next "Beechview" book, so tell your neighbors, friends and relatives to bring their photos. Plan to spend the day sharing memories by catching up with old friends and making some new ones!
A tentative schedule of events for the day follows:
||10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
10 – 11 a.m.
10 a.m. – noon
10 a.m. – noon
10 a.m. – noon
11 a.m. – noon
11 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Noon – 1 p.m.
Noon – 2 p.m.
1 – 3 p.m.
|Minibus Tour Shuttle
Genealogy Session with Marilyn Holt, Carnegie Library
Culinary Heritage Oral Histories with Penn State Extension
Professional Chair Massages
Solomon Steel Drums
Sassy Seniors Song/Dance Review
Teen Interactive Activity with J.J. Lendl, Beechview Library
Reading of Proclamation and Anniversary Cake
Bobby Short Top 40 Live Band
Check out social media and the Beechview Historical page for updates on Facebook or call David Brewton at 412-295-4787. You can also email email@example.com to get on the email list for the schedule, receive information on the updated community cook book and learn more on how you can help make it a special day.
Councilman of the Year – Mike Warhold
I want to recognize Mike Warhold on recently being named Councilman of the Year by the Pennsylvania State Association of Boroughs. Mike has served as a councilperson in Castle Shannon Borough since January 2005 and has served as the Council’s Vice President for the last three years. He is the President of the Castle Shannon Revitalization Corporation and played an instrumental role in the development of the borough’s Military Hero Banner Program.
Mike is a fantastic public servant on behalf of the residents of Castle Shannon and I congratulate him on receiving this tremendous honor!
Mt. Washington Open House
The Mt. Washington Community Development Corporation (MWCDC) is hosting an open house this Thursday from 4 – 7 p.m. to celebrate the success of their most recent residential renovation project at 622 Chess Street. This project represents ongoing implementation efforts of the MWCDC’s 10-year Neighborhood Housing Strategy. Congratulations to the MWCDC and continued success with all your efforts!
Brookline Community Yard Sale
South Pittsburgh Development Corporation (SPDC) is hosting the Brookline Community Yard Sale on August 15th from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m. This event is a neighborhood-wide yard sale that will be promoted through the month, including printed maps that will be handed out to hundreds of buyers and an interactive online map that can be plugged directly into a GPS app.
Anyone interested in registering can do so online by clicking here. For more information please visit the SPDC’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/BrooklineSPDC.
It was on this date in 1877 that the Railroad Strike of 1877 turned violent in Pittsburgh. PA Railroad workers had gone on strike in part to protest wage and job cuts at a time when one quarter of the country’s workers were unemployed. A historical marker rests on the spot at 28th Street and Liberty Avenue in the Strip District where 26 people were fatally shot by a militia which caused people to burn rail property belonging to the PA Railroad.
Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana
|| Brookline District
932 Brookline Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
Weekdays – 9 am – 5 pm
543 Main Capitol
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Weekdays – 8:30 am – 5 pm
524 Pine Hollow Road
Weekdays – 10 am – 4 pm
|| Beechview Satellite
1660 Broadway Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15216
Tuesdays – 10 am – 4 pm
|Strip District (Mobile Office)
Pittsburgh Public Market
2401 Penn Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15222
Thursdays – 10 am – 4 pm
|Northside (Mobile Office)
1230 Federal Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15212
Wednesdays – 10 am – 4 pm