Recent concerns about the future of the Allegheny Regional Asset District grant program ("RAD Sticks to Its Plan to Withhold 10% of Grants," July 9) make it is easy to lose sight of RAD's past impact and future benefit.
An important example of regional cooperation, RAD provided one of the first property tax reform programs and a continuing source of municipal income. It also secured a dedicated fund for the preservation of important regional assets -- our libraries, parks, stadiums and arts and culture facilities and programs. With grants totaling over $1 billion since inception, RAD continues as an investment in our quality of life.
RAD's commitment to libraries has never wavered -- some $331 million has gone to libraries (over 30 percent of yearly allocations), connecting library service across our county. With RAD as a stable funding base, the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium, the National Aviary and Phipps Conservatory have been able to privatize and grow. From 1994 to 2008 at the Pittsburgh Zoo alone, attendance is up 80 percent and earned income has increased 236 percent.
The current year is challenging and 2009 RAD allocations remain to be finalized. RAD does not have taxing power and can only grant what is available. Despite what everyone hopes is a temporary interruption to normal economic growth, the district's mission to maintain, improve and modernize the region's assets is being achieved.
We encourage folks to visit RADworkshere.org to find out more.
DAVID L. DONAHOE
Allegheny Regional Asset District