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RAD Board Predicts Significant Funding for Special Projects

When sales tax revenue deflates, the Allegheny Regional Asset District is only able to fund day-to-day operations of organizations that qualify as assets, but that's not the case this year. With county revenue through May coming in 5.8% higher than last year, RAD's already planning to give at least $840,000 in capital grants for special projects in 2013.

"This will allow assets … to ask for funds to make repairs to buildings, make accessibility improvements, and so on, in addition to their operating support," RAD executive director David Donahoe said.

RAD is a special-purpose unit of local government that distributes half the county's 1% sales tax revenue to public assets like libraries, parks, and cultural institutions. Capital grant funding evaporated in 2010 and 2011 but has been available since.

The $840,000 was given preliminary approval in the 2012 budget, to give groups a jump start planning design and logistics so they could hit the ground running once the 2013 budget is finalized. Proposed projects include rebuilding the glasshouse at Phipps Conservatory and repairing fencing at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium. The Board is also accepting new applications through July 16 for both operational and capital grants for 2013.

The health of the 2013 capital grant program depends on the strength of sales tax revenue throughout the remainder of this year. The 2012 RAD budget of $84.1 million was above average, and Donahoe expects the 2013 funding will at least match, if not exceed, the previous.