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Parking tax plan dropped

Brian C. Rittmeyer
| Monday, Nov. 19, 2001

Jefferson Hills has scrapped plans for a parking tax after accepting a $50,000 annual contribution from Jefferson Hospital.

The borough had been considering since April implementing a 15 percent parking tax. The hospital, operated by the South Hills Health System, opposed the tax and in August proposed making a donation if the borough would not enact the tax.

The tax would have applied to any nonresidential parking for which a fee is collected. The hospital currently has the only parking where the tax would apply.

Borough Manager Richard Clark said the parking tax would have raised an estimated $70,000 annually. The original intent was for the money to be directed to the borough's fire and ambulance services.

Under an agreement accepted by council last week, the hospital will give the borough $12,500 each quarter, for a total of $50,000 a year. The money will go into the borough's general fund, Mayor Mary Larcinese said.

Although the hospital's donation is less than what would have been generated by the tax, Clark said that if the hospital were to stop charging for parking, the borough would collect "15 percent of nothing."

Larcinese said she did not support the parking tax or the agreement with the hospital.

"If they wanted to enact a tax on parking, that's what they should've done," she said. "Are they going to go to all the other businesses and get them to make a donation?"

But because all the council members present approved the agreement, Larcinese said she will not veto it. Councilman Michael Kulish had been absent.

"The majority of council was in agreement. That does say something," she said. "I don't agree with them, but I'm not going to stand in their way."

Clark said the agreement with the hospital is nonbinding, has no time limit and does not provide for periodic increases.

If the hospital were to stop making the donation, Clark said the borough could impose a parking tax. Likewise, if the borough were to enact a parking tax, the hospital could halt its contribution.

"That's the essence of the thing," Clark said. "It's just an agreement."

A hospital representative did not return a call for comment. Hospital officials in August had also refused to discuss their offer to the borough.

Clark said the agreement with the hospital achieved the borough's objective.

"The intent was to generate more revenue for emergency services," he said. "When somebody is willing to make a donation, why go through the trouble of having the tax?"

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