Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato has vetoed legislation approved this week by County Council that proposes collecting as much as $13 million annually from non-profits for their tax exempt properties. Council passed the measure 14-0. Councilwoman Amanda Green was absent because she is in Japan for the American Council of Young Political Leaders exchange program.
In his veto letter, Onorato said Council's effort to levy a "Tax Exempt Certification and Essential Services Fee" is "illegal" and he predicted it would be successfully challenged in court. Onorato says he's been trying to negotiate up to $4 million in voluntary payments from non-profits to help pay for services (PILOT: Payments In Lieu Of Taxes).
Onorato also vetoed a measure approved on a 13-1 vote to okay the sale of the County Health Department Building in Oakland for $4.9 million. A developer wants to erect a hotel, office building and parking garage at the site. The problem is not the sale price or the development plans but rather a controversial amendment inserted by Councilman Chuck McCullough. That amendment would have the sale money go to a special fund controlled by Council, and would require a unanimous vote by council to spend more than $100,000. Several Council members admitted they had not read the amendment before voting on it. Council President Rich Fitzgerald asked Onorato to veto that measure with the attached amendment.
Council will consider overriding the 2 vetoes at the November 17th meeting.