Monday, October 31, 2005

Regional Asset District defensive, but without explanation for shortchanging Valley

A letter to the editor in today's Valley News Dispatch responded to the October 19 article about the intention of the Regional Asset District not to fund the Rachel Carson Homestead. I previously blogged about this article here.

The letter writer is Daniel J. Griffin, a member of the board of the Allegheny Regional Asset District. He writes as follows:

Regarding your article of Oct. 19, "Local groups again shortchanged by asset district," I take exception with the implication that Valley Residents are neglected by the Regional Asset District.

Indeed, Valley residents receive library services not only from their closest branches, but from any library throughout the county via the regional delivery service and computerized catalogue.

Valley residents are served by 14 district-funded parks throughout the county, including several in the northeast corner (Harrison Hills, Deer Lakes, North Park and Hartwood Acres).

Valley residents are also served by the municipal share of the 1 percent sales tax that comes back to their municipalities.

Moreover, residents throughout the county, including the Valley, are served by all of the regional assets, places like the Pittsburgh Zoo and Phipps Conservatory, and arts and culture and recreational facilities and programs.

While assets, through performance and good management, must earn the support of the district board, we recognize, support and welcome eligible applications from throughout the county, including the Valley.

This reads like a defensive response to me, and it does not give an explanation for the failure of the RAD to support the Rachel Carson Homestead, other than that they have decided not to support it.

The original article pointed out that there are substantial grants made to some assets perceived as having a wide reach in the county. But when grants are made in other parts of the county to groups and organizations having a narrower reach, why are similar grants not made in the Valley?

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W. said...

I have tried for two years to track down the amount of money Valley residents pay IN to that $75 million pool RAD dispurses.

Unfortunately, when the state collects the extra 1 percent sales tax, it doesn't record from which community that revenue comes.

RAD board members don't seem to know where any of our assets are, but they sure know how to find us when they want an extra penny's worth of sales tax.

Stewart said...

If it is the state that collects that 1 percent, then the RAD doesn't even have to look for us.

W. said...

I even tried to calculate it backwards by using the amount of RAD revenue each municipality received directly. But it turns out the formula for distributing that money isn't based on how much sales tax each municipality collects. It's maddening.

Stewart said...

If they aren't tracking the sales tax from each municipality, then the claim that each municipality gets back the "municipal share" must be understood as something distinct from the municipality's "fair share."