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Under The Hat: Someone's Gotta Give

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There is still only one place where you can get money; ultimately from someone who has it.
That's becoming more and more of an issue for cities and schools looking to balance budgets amid growing costs and dwindling ranks from those who have.
It's causing city leaders to revisit one of the long standing sacred cows in the tax law: that being tax exempt properties.
From Boston to Chicago, Providence to New Orleans, cities are making the argument that as costs for snow removal, police and fire protection go up churches, universities and medical centers are buying more of the available properties, dropping them from the tax rolls.
Boston is already looking at non-profits owning more than 50 percent of the parcels within the city limits.
 In our area the movement has manifested itself in the form of a letter from the Tax Assessment Appeals Board telling Hamot Medical Center that its tax exempt status will be revisited because Hamot is now UPMC-Hamot, having affiliated with the health care giant to the south.
 It may be a bad example for making a good point.
UPMC-Hamot has a PILOT agreement, that's Payments in Lieu Of Taxes of more than a million dollars, meaning the system pays roughly 50 percent of what it would owe if all 60 of Hamot's buildings were fully on the tax rolls.
That's far more than most here and a much better deal per capita than Pittsburgh has with the 21 system, 8 billion dollar UPMC giant.
There is no PILOT agreement there, and tax cops have to go building by building looking for any for-profit uses of UPMC-owned facilities, like if a doctor's office rents unused space to a coffee shop.
While UPMC pays taxes on any square footage used for for-profit purposes, I can't imagine that even remotely coming close to what the system would owe if it agreed to a 50 percent split.
It's touchy business.
These are the places that heal us when we're sick, educate our children and nurture our souls.
They are much of what makes up the quality of life in a place.
But inevitably, money can only come from the places that have it.
And as the pressure continues to build, eventually something, or someone, is going to have to give.

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