Monday, November 19, 2012

LV Cities Shortchanged by Colleges & Hospitals

Callahan with LU's Women's Basketball Team Last Week
In Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan's budget proposal, he's including a revenue item that's highly unusual in the Lehigh Valley. It's called a Payment in Lieu of Taxes, or PILOT, under which exempt organizations like colleges and hospitals make a financial or in-kind contribution in recognition of the services provided by that municipality. Although the Lehigh Valley sees little revenue from exempt organizations, the chart below shows that it's a common practice in the rest of the state.


PILOT Contributions to Cities Throughout Pennsylvania


2011 pilot
contribution        
2011 gf
revenue            
% of revenues
lancaster $1,675,000 $46,189,083 3.63%
erie $930,000 $60,466,724 1.54%
york $584,400 $43,839,026 1.33%
altoona $308,114 $26,707,569 1.15%
wilkes-barre $489,466 $43,848,830 1.12%
chester $347,199 $41,631,586 0.83%
harrisburg $401,522 $55,993,156 0.72%
scranton $198,000 $74,991,268 0.26%
bethlehem $58,670 $67,822,462 0.09%
allentown $50,000 $88,082,868 0.06%
easton $0 $28,270,465 0.00%
average $476,522 $52,661,812 1.00%
median $347,199 $46,289,083 0.83%
rank
bethlehem
ranked 10 of 12
beth at ave. $678,969
beth. at median $565,626

According to a study done by Public Financial Management, Inc., most colleges recognize a moral, if not legal, obligation to support their municipalities. Franklin and Marshall, for example, contributes 0.35% of its assessed value annually to Lancaster. In addition, it maintains for Buchanan Park. Alvernia, Albright, Kings and Wilkes University all make annual contributions on a voluntary basis, ranging from 0.05% to 0.28%. Widener University pays Chester annually for the cost of two police officers.

But Lehigh University, which has an assessed value in Northampton County estimated at over $204 million, pays nothing.

While making no contributions,tax exempt entities like Lehigh have benefited from City Services, as indicated by the fire calls made in 2011.

exempt entity           fire calls      service
costs     
lehigh 220 $283,800
moravian 107 $138,030
lv muhlenberg 31 $39,990
st. luke's 0 $0
bethlehem housing
authority
84 $108,360
total: 442 $570,180

In addition to fire calls, there are other services provided, from street cleaning to police protection.

For nothing.

Maybe Lehigh should be billed for municipal services, a la carte. After all, it sits on a $1.1 billion endowment. At the same time, senior citizens on fixed incomes struggle to pay real estate tax dollars into the City so that Bethlehem firefighters can respond to the university's false alarms.

Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan thinks it's time for that to change.

Moravian and Northampton Community College, with much smaller endowments than Lehigh University, have informally expressed a willingness to help. So have medical institutions, in the form of in-kind services. But while benefiting from the revitalization of the City's south side, Lehigh University has dragged its feet for the past 6 years on voluntary participation in any PILOT program.

Although acknowledging he lacks the power to force Lehigh to make any contribution, Callahan believes he can persuade them. "I'm going to shame them into it," he stated, noting that it is ridiculous for an entity that takes up 20% of the City's land mass to provide nothing, while smaller schools like Moravian and Northampton Community College are stepping up to the plate despite their own financial troubles.

Like Bethlehem, both Easton and Allentown have received next to nothing from the colleges and exempt institutions inside their borders.

80 comments:

Anonymous said...

Warning!!
This is a campaign media piece for Johnny Casino.

Anonymous said...

So they are picking on non-profit entities which provide critical services to the community. There is a reason non-profits are exempt. Painting them as "fat cats" is unfair. This is not corporate welfare.

Where do ambulances and fire companies take people for treatment when they are injured (regardless of their ability to pay). Every penny the city's take out of their pockets are a penny less that can go into services. These are NON-PROFITS. Not arenas and casinos.

Mark Baker said...

actually this is an excellent idea. the colleges use many of the city's service virtuly every day.

any attack on this program is nothing more than an on Callahan.

What he is attempting to do here is level the playing field.

Good job, Mayor.

Anonymous said...

Bernie -

Not necessarily against PILOTS but your mention of these institutions paying nothing for emergency or municipal services bothered me.

I seem to remember the increase in the OPT being touted as a way to fund such services. In fact, the increased tax was briefly named the EMERGENCY SERVICES TAX. Of course, the name was part of the snow job used to sell the tax to the people.

It's now known as the Local Services Tax, which is perhaps a better indication of how the increase in revenue was actually spent (mostly just dumped into the general fund and not so much on emergency services).

I would argue that these institutions are already contributing for municipal services - through their employees. I think that to be accurate, your chart should include what each institution's employees pay in LST tax.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Then the argument could be made that the Sands is already paying for these services through its employees. So is every business, and thus, no business should have to pay taxes. That's where your argument falls down. It's time for LU, which occupies 20% if the city's land mass, to cough it u.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"So they are picking on non-profit entities which provide critical services to the community. There is a reason non-profits are exempt. Painting them as "fat cats" is unfair. This is not corporate welfare."

Really? If not a fat cat, what do you call an outfit that sits on a $1. billion endowment and consumes 20% of the City's land mass without paying a dime while some little old lady who cleans their shitters has to struggle to pay her tax bill?

Sounds real fair to me.

Anonymous said...

I'm a bit sympathic towards the health care entities, but calling them "non-profit" may be a bit hard to handle. They are massive money makers and with the new health care dollars will be getting lots more.

But, I'm not happy with the collages. That consume resourses and pay next to nothing. Muhlenberg actually took doznes of properties off the tax roles.Their studends roam the streets at night and too many are high! They create traffic problems too. A modest 20%of what their tax assessed value should be is fair.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Bingo!

Anonymous said...

How do for profit businesses in KOZs pay for these servoces?

Non-profits either provide charitable servives (the hospitals) or are econominc drivers (the colleges). They provide benefits to the community well beyond EMS fees and costs? If LU and St. Luke's ceased to exist, where would the City be?

Calling out the hospitals particularly bothers me. They are quasi-governmental in the way they provide public health services. They are tax exempt for a reason.

Anonymous said...

"They are massive money makers and with the new health care dollars will be getting lots more."

Non-profit has nothing to do with whether they operate in the black or the red, it's what they do with the profits.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"any attack on this program is nothing more than an on Callahan"

Of course. Callahan, and to a lesser extent, Panto, will be attacked by the Reibman-McClure forces without regard to what is really good government. a PILOT is more than needed here in the LV, and this post shoes it is common elsewhere. This has nothing to do with the Exec race, but explains an aspect of Callahan's proposed budget and answers some questions raised about that aspect.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"How do for profit businesses in KOZs pay for these servoces?"

They don't, and that is why I am philosophically opposed to them. And at a time when local hospitals are building left and right, they should be giving back.


Bernie O'Hare said...

"Where do ambulances and fire companies take people for treatment when they are injured (regardless of their ability to pay)."

And if they can't, hospitals give them a bandaid and send them away. I have a friend who died bc he could not afford the treatments he needed. They let him die.

Anonymous said...

You bring up an excellent point. This is the elephant in the room for Allentown, too.

The Mayor there could ask for more and get it.

Bernie O'Hare said...

Bingo again. This is not on of the optinons he discussed, bc he does not really want other options.

Anonymous said...

Non-profits like Lafayette and Lehigh and Lehigh are most certainly fat cats. The professors and administrators are bona fide 1-percenters. The institutions are well-endowed and not afraid to charge breathtaking sums to attend. While they add to the area's cultural fabric, it's startling to see just how niggardly they are toward their supporting communities.

Anonymous said...

Lehigh Valley Hospital is THE WORST, and getting worse every year. They don't even have a Community Health Dept anymore and they used to have a small but excellent division. They have become a real scandal.

Anonymous said...

Allentown has tons of large non-profits.
- Lehigh Valley Hospital, 17th St & Mack Blvd
- St Luke’s Hospital
- Sacred Heart Hospital
- Good Sheppard Home
- Allentown State Hospital
- Phoebe Ministries
- Muhlenberg College
- Cedar Crest College
- County Government
- JCC
- the list goes on

Anonymous said...

The Mayor has deals going with Lehigh Valley Health Network. He lets them get away with all kinds of shit.

Anonymous said...

Lehigh has also unleashed a murderer and a bank robber on the locals. They should internalize some of their externalized costs. Perhaps a bake sale or car wash to raise the funds?

michael molovinsky said...

bernie, i take exception to callahan's premise, which you promote here. prior to sands casino, steelstacks, the banana factory etc, lehigh and it's students supported south bethlehem, and supported it for decades. simply put, they were the economy of the south side. their student body remains a powerful factor in bethlehem's bottom line. moravian likewise is responsible for the historic flavor of the northside, and it's current success. callahan must continue paging through his city governance magazine, and find other solutions

Anonymous said...

Lehigh Valley Hospital's old community health department did good stuff in Easton and Bethlehem neighborhoods too. They gave out a bunch of small grants to assist grassroots groups. Anybody know why all that stopped ? Now there seems to be nothing.

Anonymous said...

Bernie -

8:21 here again.

I don't think the argument falls down because Sands (and everyone else) is paying twice. If anything, it points to the real question, which is why is everyone paying so much?

No one is addressing the real problem, which is spending in general and public sector salaries and pensions in particular. Yes, politicians try to come up with Band-Aids to pay for it (such as Callahan's Entertainment tax and Pawlowski's Water Sale), but nobody's really trying to solve the problem.

I can count at least 4 "solutions" that Pawlowski has instituted in Allentown. These "solutions" solved nothing but resulted in everyone paying more.

Democrat politicians don't want to touch the pension issue for fear of losing union support. They'd gladly throw the taxpayer under the bus to keep the union money and election help coming.

So the politicians just keep pitting one group against the other, trying to raise more and more revenue. Where does that eventually end? With no one left to pay and bankrupt cities.

Again, I'm not opposed to PILOT's or finding a way to put "non-profits" on the tax rolls, but I'd much rather see them instituted for tax relief for all (including that little old lady you mentioned earlier) than to fund the continued overspending by municipal governments.

We don't have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem.

Anonymous said...

In the last 20 years Lehigh has done everything possible to keep their students and their students money walled off from the South Side community and South Side economy.
Molovinsky's got it wrong.

Anonymous said...

Molivinksy is incorrect in the theory that Lehigh and Moravian are economic drivers. Lehigh has regressed significantly since the new President took over. Town/Gown relations are strained, and Lehigh students keep the police busy with nuisance alcohol crimes.

Moravian College had little to do with saving the downtown. The college is well isolated from downtown, and the college even went as far as to move all their students on campus.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"No one is addressing the real problem, which is spending in general and public sector salaries and pensions in particular. Yes, politicians try to come up with Band-Aids to pay for it (such as Callahan's Entertainment tax and Pawlowski's Water Sale), but nobody's really trying to solve the problem."

In the next few days, I intend to address the real problem, and the approach Bethlehem has taken. I think you might be surprised. I know i was.

Bernie O'Hare said...

MM, Id say that right after the Steel shut down, LU was driving the economy on Bethlehem's south side, and it was a waste land. It has slowly built itself back up prior ro the Sands, and then the Sands has really helped. LU did drive the economy for a limited time, and the south side starved with LU at the helm.

On the north side, Moravian College has had an enormous impact. It is the culture of the Moravian Church, not so much investment.

And Moravian has recognized it has a moral obligation to contribute to a City from which it takes.

michael molovinsky said...

@3:42 & 3:56, anonymity is the step parent of misinformation. the rental market on the southside is dominated by lehigh students, in essence paying that side of the city's real estate taxes. the same can be said of the restaurants. the casino hasn't contributed anything to the southside businesses; it's parking deck is the destination and departure point for it's patrons.

Bernie O'Hare said...

LU students do rent a lot on the south side.

michael molovinsky said...

bernie, i know nothing of the new shopping plaza at the casino, but the businesses on 3th and 4th street make NOTHING from the casino patrons. they simply do not stop, coming or going from the sands. for example, i suspect that jenny is being supported by lehigh, both students and faculty. your commenters do not realize the amount of disposal income the students have, at least for food and drink. on that note, i leave you with them

Anonymous said...

Let me guess, your anayysis will show Callahan to be a "visionary". Please O'Hare, we knopw who is buying your butter and beans.

Anonymous said...

The BPD spends god know how much time responding to calls due to Lehigh undergrads alcohol abuse.
Lehigh refuses to deal with gross alcohol crime off campus. The burden dealing with this falls on the neighbors of all those student rentals.
I don't think Molovinsky would want to live next to Lehigh's off campus drinkers.
I'm anon. Anyone doesn't like that. Fuck them.

Anonymous said...

Lehigh Valley Healthnetwork has pulled back from its support of the community. It was never great, but it's never been as little as it is now. Some of the best things they had going suddenly stopped without warning or notice to community partners.
Don't know why.

Anonymous said...

They simply don't stop coming or going from the Sands.......

No shit.

Anonymous said...

LVHN wants to shut down 17th & Chew as soon as they can get away with it. Beleive it.

Anonymous said...

LVHN ----- not-for-profit in name only.

Anonymous said...

The numbers don't lie. The local hospitals esp LVHN are really screwing the tax payers.
They are big employers so they can get away with anything. The politicians let them.

Anonymous said...

The numbers don't lie. The local hospitals esp LVHN are really screwing the tax payers.
They are big employers so they can get away with anything. The politicians let them.

Anonymous said...

The numbers don't lie. The local hospitals esp LVHN are really screwing the tax payers.
They are big employers so they can get away with anything. The politicians let them.

Anonymous said...

I have to step in here and defend LVH. On the first weekend of November LVH gave out several thousand Free Flu shots at Dorney Park and Coca Cola Park. They were free to anyone of any age, including kids.
That's called giving back to the community you serve, LVH has many free programs out in the community. They even sponsor a battered woman's shelter in center city.

No, they aren't perfect, but before someone starts playing around with imaginary ledger balances, do some research, then make an informed opinion.

Anonymous said...

Not to bring up a sore subject but what about these store front churches and the clergy that are spinging up everywhere. Just what tax benefits do they receive? Fodder for another post?

Bernie O'Hare said...

That's an excellent suggestion. It's a trend that, frankly, scares me. Many of these "reverends" are not real ministers and have no training. Some of them use their position to prey on others, while others are sincere. In a country that honors the separation of church and state, one can't ask too many questions, which makes the atmosphere ripe for all kinds of exploitation. It would be interesting to know how many of them claim an exemption. I will see what I can do, but it probably will not be for at least a month.

Bernie O'Hare said...

With all due respect to LVH and its good works, it needs to start paying taxes. The rules for exempt properties need to change. We can't change pensions, but we can change that in a hurry, and should.

Anonymous said...

The kings first remodeler in 2006 was a subcontractor for lvh and now one of his developers for the arena is a lvh executive that resigned to build the BIG BROWN HOLE¿

There are no conflicts of intrests in the black hole of lehighvalley land development¿ There has to be some outside federal agency watching from the outside¿

Anonymous said...

Hah! About time people started paying attention to all the BS the non profits get away with in the LV.

They spend more on mulch than the combined resident income of some blocks in Allentown & Bethlehem.

They are all up Pawlowski's butt and will do what they can to vilify and punish anyone who works for them and opposes the current administration.

Local elected officials included. Their way or the highway, baby!

Anonymous said...

Some of the newest and shiniest buildings in the Lehigh Valley Are hospitals. Where do people really think all of the money used to pay for those improvements is coming from? Wake-up. Are you kidding? These guys complain about the cost of healthcare? They should look in the mirror of self deceit.

Anonymous said...

Good to see someone stepping up to defend LVHN, because they need some defending.
They give the community and city less and less, and treat their own employees worse and worse.
Their HR DEPARTMENT is a bunch of thugs.
LVHN HR Department is the best rational for unions I can think of.

Anonymous said...

LVHN --- HR ---- bend over and prepare to be screwed. LVHN employees, good Cluck.
You have no representation let alone friends at LVHN---HR.
If they screw their own people, and they do, naturally they will stick it to the city also,and they do.

Anonymous said...

Lehigh Valley sponcers a battered women's shelter in Center City -------- bullshit.

Anonymous said...

They treat their own people like shit at Lehigh Valley Hospital.
Their HR people are thugs.
Both sadly true.

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Anonymous said...

15,000 Plus employees. Hundreds of millions of dollars annually, largest hospital in the region -------- one free flu shot clinic( staffed by the goodwill of employees working after-hours )---- you think that gives LVH bragging rights?
What contempt. How stupid do you think people are?

Anonymous said...

Use their employees up. Throw them away. Lehigh Valley Hospital sucks.

Anonymous said...

LVHN is a money making machine. It's a crime they lost their Community Health Department and rolled back on neighborhood involvement. Their reputation went from very good to a -D in a few short years.
They could triple their community involvement and if wouldn't even be a blip on the bottom line.

Anonymous said...

St Luke's does great things with the leadership of Dr Bonnie C. In their Community Healith programs.
She is fantastic.

Anonymous said...

If I were one local hospital and reading this blog, I would have grave concerns regarding my community position.

But then do they care or do they simply feel "who else are you going to go to"? True arrogance seems to be a hallmark of our "overpriced" and under performing health care system. What is community health anyway?

The storefront reverends are pandered to by the hospitals to do their bidding. They come and go, some are just another business that breeds off of an uneducated and poor urban environment.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I doubt very much that the money bags at LVHN would lower themselves to read this blog.

Anonymous said...

You better beleive they have read this and they are concerned at the negative feedback.
They increasingly hear this kind of feedback.
The truth hurts. Look for PR spin to counter this.

Anonymous said...

Surprised no one has mentioned LVHN's stratergy to get rid of older, " more costly " employees. HR at LVHN will be facing a class action litigation in the not too distance future.
HR at LVHN is heartless, shameless, weedling pricks.

Anonymous said...

Ya gotta know this freaks them out over at LVHN.
They like to think they got a lid on all this stuff.

Anonymous said...

Of course JB Rieley was until recently a LVHN board member.

Anonymous said...

I knew someone who used to work in PR at LVHN. She said anytime anyone complained they would simply trash the person and write them off as a "nut" with mental issues. Great way for a hospital to respond to a challenge. But then I think their executives are behind the times and a little outta touch with what is really going on in the world. I've also heard they focus on getting rid of the old heads.

Anonymous said...

Damn right about " getting rid of the old heads".There is a warm place in hell for LVHN SOB HR hacks. Real pieces of shit. Willing to ruin people's lives without blinking. How these creeps look in the mirror, face their children, or sleep at night is beyound me.
Some day, some where, some how, people like this get theirs. In this world or the next.

Anonymous said...

LVHN Human Relations Dept. ----99.99% management------.01 employee.
You get called down there, just know your in for a royal fucking. Ask around, the stories are legion.
These people are the worst kind of human beings.

Just ask around.

Anonymous said...

Lehigh Un will stick it to the city/ community any way it can. Same as LVHN. Big money stickin it to the "little people".

Anonymous said...

You hit a nerve here BOH!

Bernie O'Hare said...

It's beginning to look like some people really hate LVHN. I think they need to pay their fair share.

Anonymous said...

Pensions. LVHN is paying attention. They are trying to get rid of as many older, loyal employees as they can, fair or foul, hook or crook, and beat these good people out of as much of their pensions as they can.
Lives are ruined as good people, one at a time, here and there, are drummed out after 15, 18, 20 plus years of service. Loyal service.
LVHN's HR staff has absolutely no compassion for people pushed out into the great recession, replaced by younger,"cheaper" workers .
For years the best performers got 3% raises annually. This oversight had to be rolled back.
Enter the bastards at HR'.
Pensions. LVHN has been watching,

Anonymous said...

If you have 15 plus years in at LVHN watch your back. The plan is to throw you away at the first opportunity. HR might give you three or four different reasons over four or five weeks. They will lie through teeth.
YOU HAVE NO REPRESENTATION---NO DUE PROCESS.
Good luck LVHN employees. You may very well need it.

Bernie O'Hare said...

I think you made your point after your fourth or fifth comment.

Anonymous said...

LVHN missed the mark on this strategy. It is well known, over the past 7-8 years, they have been systematically scaling back their employee ranks of older, experienced, and more seasoned employees.

In exchange they are building a work force of younger, not as bright, but a much more malleable work force. These are the workers who are known for "here today, gone tomorrow".

This has been a short sighted strategy propagated by the questionable abilities and strategic wisdom of the relatively new VP of personnel.

Ultimately they will pay for this on many fronts. More and more people appear to be developing hostile attitudes toward LVHN and LVPG.

Most importantly this strategy was absolutely the wrong one in the current health care environment. Obamas plan will crush LVHN. Should have been looking at the patients and not the employees for cost cutting.

Anonymous said...

Easy to see the anger and deep hurt.

Anonymous said...

I used to love working there,really loved it. I was proud and loyal.
Now I hate it.

Anonymous said...

I hate it when the little people whine.

Anonymous said...

But don't forget the free flu shots.

Anonymous said...

The carping of nuts,malcontents and disgruntled former workers. Pay them no mind.

Rest assured that we, the fine management people here at LVHN, are not influenced by such silly distractions.

We are ----LVHN!

Anonymous said...

11:56 AM & 2:55 PM:

Wow, great to see a proactive community health response.

Great work guys!

Surprised your in the day before Thanksgiving. Sacrifice, sacrifice, & more sacrifice.

Anonymous said...

The HR Dept at LVHN, like the "good Germans" everywhere, are just following orders.

They blot out the pain they cause, ignore reality around them. They are just doing their job.

To all those laid off, tossed off, trying to keep their families afloat, God Bless You, this Thanksgiving.
You are not forgotten.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. Everybody in our department was talking about this today. Quietly of course.
There is a lot of low level fear around LVHN.

Anonymous said...

Like Norco, LVHN is fastidious about monitoring employee emal accounts. Always looking for that leverage to control employees, especially the old heads.