Organization provides more support for 1 percent tuition tax

By Staff Report

City Council announced today that an organization of Pennsylvania municipalities has voiced… City Council announced today that an organization of Pennsylvania municipalities has voiced support for the 1 percent tuition tax proposed by the mayor.

The Pennsylvania League of Cities and Municipalities, a nonprofit association created to represent municipalities in state and federal governments, voiced its support for the initiative today.

Councilman Rev. Ricky Burgess, whose district includes East Liberty and Homewood, said the support of the league will help show the legitimacy of the tuition tax.

“I think that in the next couple of days, there will be other things that solidify the wisdom of this,” Burgess said.

Rick Schuettler, deputy executive director of the Pennsylvania League of Cities and Municipalities, said the organization has supported municipalities finding ways to get revenue from tax-exempt institutions for a long time.

“We support autonomy for local governments and giving them options to find what the best fit is for them,” Schuettler said.

Schuettler said he could not comment on the accusations from some city, state and university officials that the tax could be illegal.

“We’re relying on the same opinion that Pittsburgh has shared with us,” he said.

Schuettler said the league did not weigh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s Fair Share Tax against other proposals for collecting revenue from tax-exempt nonprofits and that they supported the tax because it was one option municipalities could use to collect revenue.

He said the league agreed with the mayor on students’ role in paying for city services.

“Municipalities don’t have the luxury of providing services on a selective basis,” Schuettler said. “We believe that everyone has a fair share to pay. Municipal services cost money.”

Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, as well as smaller municipalities throughout the commonwealth, are represented in Schuettler’s organization.

“We promote autonomy and assist communities in trying to provide the most effective local governments as possible,” he said.

City, colleges continue talks

Three local college presidents met with the mayor to discuss the tax on Monday, according to the Post-Gazette, but Chancellor Mark Nordenberg was not present at the meeting.

Pitt spokesman John Fedele said the chancellor was traveling yesterday and today.

Joanna Doven, a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office, said she could not speak on whether Nordenberg was invited to the meeting because she didn’t schedule it.