April 20, 2010; Temple News | Last year, Pittsburgh was the epicenter of Pennsylvania’s—and perhaps the nation’s—battle between tax revenue-hungry mayors and PILOT-resistant nonprofit institutions. This year, Philadelphia may draw a comparable share of attention. According to this article from the Temple University student paper, Philadelphia’s “eds and meds” such as the University of Pennsylvania and Temple have met with city officials to make it clear that they have no interest in making or increasing payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTS).

It’s obvious why the City might be eyeing potential PILOTs. Nonprofits are two of the top five employers in the city (after the federal government, city government, and public schools). But the city only gets around $700,000 in PILOTs from nonprofits, including zero from Penn, Temple, St. Joseph’s, and Drexel (it does get something from the Temple University Health System, which is a separate entity).

Which nonprofits pay PILOTs? The largest contributor is the Cathedral Village retirement community with an annual payment of $275,000. The game is changing. The City and the Chamber of Commerce “have been meeting to discuss standardizing” PILOTs by apparently conducting a study like Boston’s to come up with a formula PILOT system, according to a city spokesperson. Nothing is going to happen before the results of the study, but, in Philadelphia, the drumbeat for PILOTs is audible.—Rick Cohen