ARAD Approves Largest Budget in 20-Year History

Dec 2, 2014

The Allegheny Regional Asset District will allocate more than it ever has in its 20-year history to organizations and projects in 2015.

The Board of Directors of the ARAD approved a $93.7 million budget Monday that details the distribution of $89.3 million in operating grants and $4.4 million in capital grants to a total of 90 nonprofit or government agencies.

“It’s a broad ranging budget,” said David Donahoe, executive director of the ARAD. “What we hope it will do is sustain and enhance these terrific regional assets that are such a part of the quality of life in this area.”

The budget, which is funded by sales tax receipts, earmarks more to the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh than to any other grantee.

“About 32 percent goes to [the library], which is not only the library in the city but also a district library, meaning it provides services to everyone in the area,” Donahoe said.

Approximately 30 percent of the budget is allocated to parks and trails, 15 percent to sports facilities and the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, 11 percent to arts and cultural organizations and 9 percent to the Zoo, Phipps and Aviary.

The remaining 3 percent goes to the Port Authority of Allegheny County, which was first approved for funding in 2013. The decision to fund the Port Authority came under fire at the time with some criticizing the ARAD for bailing out a government agency.

Donahoe said funding the transit organization has not had a negative impact on any of the other recipients.

“It’s really up to the Citizen Board to make a decision about how to allocate the funds,” Donahoe said. “They’ve been persuaded that transit is such an important part of the economy of our region, but also provides transportation so that a lot of folks can get to the assets.”

The $4.4 million in capital grants will go toward one-time projects, including a number of accessibility improvements at the Andy Warhol Museum. Donahoe said the ARAD promotes accessibility through its Regional Assets Are For Everyone project, which assures people who face physical or mental challenges can access arts and recreation opportunities.

“The Warhol is stepping up [in the project] and will make their facility a model of accessibility,” Donahoe said.

The 2014 budget was $91.2 million, up from $88.5 million in 2013.