Pittsburgh’s universities told Mayor Luke Ravenstahl yesterday they won’t agree to his call for them to contribute $5 million to city coffers to avoid a tax on tuition paid by students.
Mr. Ravenstahl had given the universities until Monday to commit to the contributions he says the city desperately needs to replenish its underfunded pension fund. He said yesterday their decision leaves him no choice but to ask for approval of the tax by City Council, where five of the nine members have said they will support what he calls the Fair Share Tax.
The tax proposed would force Pittsburgh students to pay a varying fee to the city equivalent to one percent of tuition.
The mayor’s plan is supposed to raise about $16 million a year for Pittsburgh. After college administrators rejected the tax, the mayor’s office offered that if the colleges would just pay the government $ 5 million he would not institute the tuition tax. Pittsburgh colleges rejected that compromise.
Ravenstahl proposed the tax because the city is short $15 million a year it needs to pay for the pensions of retired city employees.