‘Good Neighbors’ Campaign Seeks Money From City Nonprofits
A number of local organizations led by Philadelphia Jobs with Justice launched a campaign earlier this week they say will help fund schools and other public services that’ve been cut in recent years.
The campaign, which they’re calling “Good Neighbors,” calls on “mega-nonprofits” to pay taxes to the city, which will, in turn, go to public services.
“There is money,” noted Gwen Snyder, executive director of Jobs with Justice, who organized the press conference, “and we need to make sure we go after it.”
The campaign, it was announced on the 4th Floor of City Hall on Tuesday afternoon, would require nonprofits like Penn and Jefferson to pay taxes on their acquired properties which do not pass the Hospital Utilization Project Test (or, do things like advance a charitable purpose; benefit a class of people who are “legitimate subjects of charity”; relieve the government of some of its burden; and other requirements as per a 1985 state Supreme Court decision).
Additionally, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled in April 2012 that counties and municipalities may require nonprofits to demonstrate that they qualify as charitable under the HUP test for their tax exemption.
Many nonprofits are exempt from paying any taxes and, according to a recent Inquirer/Plan Philly study touted at yesterday’s press conference, own 10.8 percent of property in the city by value, or, about $13 billion of real estate. About $528 million in property taxes were not collected in 2012 due to nonprofit statuses.
The conference was attended by—and the idea is supported by—Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown. Brown and Councilman Bill Green last month called for hearings on rethinking property tax exemptions for nonprofits in the city. Green has two bills which could help begin the process of getting large nonprofits to pay their “fair share,” as it was often called at the press conference.
The Good Neighbors campaign was just one of several ideas highlighted Tuesday to help save Philadelphia’s schools. Others included money from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board and a plan proposed by State Sen. Vincent Hughes (D-Philadelphia) which would help fund Philly’s schools through money obtained through Medicaid expansion. Gov. Corbett has blocked the federal Medicaid expansion plan, which is part of the Affordable Care Act. Philadelphia school officials recently asked for $120 million in additional funding from the state due to financial woes.
Follow Randy on Twitter: @RandyLoBasso