The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, in announcing with great fanfare earlier this month its pledge of $100 million to a scholarship program for graduating seniors from Pittsburgh public schools, left out a piece of information that might have changed perceptions about the giftthe fact that it was simultaneously seeking a dollar-for-dollar guarantee that its gift would offset any future payments in lieu of taxes.
With a grandstand of students sitting behind him, UPMC President and CEO Jeffrey Romoff received at least two standing ovations at a news conference earlier this month when the academic medical center announced its financial commitment. Touting it as what is believed to be the largest commitment of its kind, UPMC said in a news release that it would initially contribute $10 million to mobilize the Pittsburgh Promise, an endowment fund that has reportedly sat fallow since it was announced a year ago by city officials. The remaining $90 million of UPMCs pledge is set up as a challenge grant to spur a communitywide campaign to raise a total of $250 million to create a permanent endowment, the system says.
But the taxlike break offered to UPMC did not come to light until last week, when Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl reportedly proposed a resolution to the City Council asking that UPMC be given a dollar-for-dollar credit if it is ever required to make payments in lieu of taxes to the city. Council members were reportedly caught off-guard and wanted a little time to think about it.
UPMC officials this time did not have a news release prepared, and were apparently likewise caught off-guard by the raised eyebrows in the local media. We were only made aware yesterday that this was to be presented to the council today, a UPMC spokesman says in an e-mail. In lieu of a news release, the spokesman offers a written statement on request: (T)hese provisions are standard in all agreements with the city and are not unique to the Pittsburgh Promise. The provisions provide that if the city collects tax revenues, UPMCs voluntary financial commitment to the Pittsburgh Promise will be reduced proportionately.
Well, that clears things up nicely.