Where has the CITF Money Gone?

Continued from "Shaking the Gaming Money Tree"

We can evaluate the $9.2 million doled out this far through the CITF by number of projects, type, and location to see if there are any discernible trends shaping up.

There have been 57 projects that have received a CITF award. On average, that works out to $161,000 per project. Of the projects, 23 received above the average amount, with 17 receiving the maximum $250,000 and one project receiving $1,000,000 under a special waiver of the Authority.

And there have been some recipients that "double dipped" for CITF money. Data shows that Stephen Foster Community Center received two disbursements (one for $75k, one for $60k) for window replacement and four disbursements totaling $675,000 were given to Green Innovators Center, Pittsburgh Green Innovators 2, Green Innovation Campus, and Pittsburgh Green Innovators. It is possible that these are four separate and distinct organizations but the close proximity in names makes that seem unlikely. In addition there are at least three recipients that have received money from either the Regional Asset District tax or the hotel/motel tax in the last decade.

About one-fifth of funds have been related to purely public infrastructure. As stated in the program guidelines described earlier the purpose of the money is to fund infrastructure. What this word means varies from person to person. When looking at what one could consider purely public infrastructure-a bridge, a street, a road, a sewer line-we can trace $2 million of the $9.2 million (20%) to this area of spending. Close to $5 million appears to be for projects that involve a building or structure. This could be considered tangible and physical space but may be a step removed from what one would classify as infrastructure, especially public infrastructure.

The remainder of the money ($2 million) is connected to parks, a fountain, a memorial, branding and marketing for the Monroeville Visitors’ Bureau, and loan initiatives that would be further removed from infrastructure.

There has been a near 50/50 split of the money between City and non-City locales.

Aside from one award that was identified as a countywide loan initiative, all other awards went to either a specific municipality or a group of multiple municipalities. $4.3 million was awarded within the City of Pittsburgh and $4.6 million went to municipalities outside of the City. Pittsburgh represents about 25 percent of the entire County population. Of the non-City share, Monroeville received close to 30 percent of the distribution. Swissvale received one stand alone award and was involved in two other multi-municipal awards. Edgewood and Verona likewise followed this trend.

Shaking the Gaming Money Tree

Residents and taxpayers in Allegheny County might be surprised to find that some of the sidewalks upon which they traverse were made possible by people playing slot machines. So too with some bridges, parks, buildings, and other physical structures as well as planning, marketing, and loan initiatives.

One of the eight distributions of slots money Allegheny County received under Act 53 of 2007-the law that divvied up the share of economic development projects funded by gaming-was $80 million for a "…community infrastructure fund of a county of the second class to fund construction, development, improvement, and maintenance of infrastructure projects". The law further stipulated that the County would get ten annual disbursements of $6.6 million through 2018. Thus far $13.2 million has been received by the County and handed over to be administered by the Redevelopment Authority. Some $9.2 million has been distributed through September 2010.

Under the most recent program guidelines for the Community Infrastructure and Tourism Fund (CITF, and the tourism aspect was added by the County’s Redevelopment Authority after Act 53 was passed), the money can fund acquisition of land and buildings; for costs related to storm water, sanitary sewer, water supply, and transportation projects; demolition; environmental projects; planning,; streetscape; and other site preparation costs at the discretion of the Authority. The money cannot be used as bridge financing, for operating expenses, to refinance debt, or municipal vehicles or structures.

Municipalities, authorities, councils of government, and non-profits can obtain a grant or a loan; for-profit businesses are eligible for loans only; the maximum amount for a single project or application (whether a grant or loan) is $250,000.

It is too early to assess the benefits of many distributions from the fund: the guidelines do say that awards are evaluated on job creation and retention over a three year period, the amount of funding per full time job, the amount of matching funds, etc. Much of that will come by way of a close-out audit when funds are drawn down.

Two follow up entries on the blog will detail the money that has been handed out through September of 2010 and the policy framework going forward.