Councilman DeFazio Calls for Closer Look at UPMC

The Post-Gazette’s investigation into UPMC’s vast tax-exempt empire struck a nerve with fed up Pittsburghers. In the weeks since the report was published, well over a thousand residents signed a petition to urge the Allegheny County Council to hold a public hearing to look into UPMC’s non-profit status and its role in our community.

Last night, councilman John DeFazio heard the message and offered a motion to hold a public hearing on UPMC’s tax-exempt properties. The council voted unanimously to hold the hearing on December 5th.

“People have been asking a lot of questions about this. It’s a good idea to have this meeting and air it out properly in front of everybody,” said Councilmember DeFazio

UPMC employees turned out to support the measure and were joined by other nonprofit leaders and community organizations.

Leslie Poston, a unit clerk at UPMC Presbyterian, told the Council, “I’m proud of the work I do at UPMC, but I want to be proud of how UPMC gives back to our community too. Right now, I can’t say that I am. We’re closing schools and cutting bus routes because we don’t have enough money to keep things going. It doesn’t have to be that way.”

Molly Nichols, a member of Pittsburghers for Public Transit, a group committed to defend and expand the area’s transit system told the Council, “With nearly 5% of all Port Authority trips going to medical appointments, we have serious concerns about the fact that UPMC, one of the largest landowners in the region which makes hundreds of millions of dollars in profit each year and which is dependent on public services like transit, is not contributing its fair share to the county’s tax base.”

“UPMC has a choice to make. Does it want to be a for-profit corporation that puts its bottom line above all else, or does it want to act like a non-profit and put our communities first?” said Barney Oursler, the executive director of Pittsburgh United, a coalition of advocacy organizations.

“This is a conversation that is long overdue. It’s time we have a say about UPMC’s role in our community, and renegotiate that relationship if it’s not serving our needs.”

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