A Message from the President

Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh is preparing to present its annual request to the Allegheny Regional Asset District. As we enter our fourth year with this funding, I thought you might like to know how it is benefitting the museums you care about and have chosen to support.

The Regional Asset District was enacted in 1994 through a 1 percent sales tax. It provides a minimum level of funding for 10 years to 10 assets, most of which  had a history of support from the City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County. One of those is Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh.

Regional Asset District funding provides approximately 8 percent of Carnegie Museums' operating budget. This money helps pay to clean, light, heat and cool our buildings; support high-quality staff and develop many of the exhibits and educational programs we produce. In short, Regional Asset District monies support the fundamental activities that allow us to open our doors and provide our services to some 1.5 million people each year.

Equally important, it is guaranteed support, which we did not have when we applied separately to the city and county. Imagine what it would be like to plan your family's budget not knowing whether 8 percent of your income would be there or not. In a similar way, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Phipps Conservatory, the National Aviary, Pittsburgh Zoo, the Stadium Authority, the Allegheny County Library System and a number of city and county parks have a measure of financial stability because of the Regional Asset District.

However, the Regional Asset District has done even more for Carnegie Museums than it is obliged to do. For example, over the past two years we have received capital funds totaling $200,000 to help make our 100-year-old Oakland building more accessible for people with disabilities. With these funds, we worked with Accessibility Development Associates, Inc., to evaluate our needs, develop a multi-year implementation plan, and train our front line and customer service staff to be more responsive to the special needs of visitors. A staff committee representing all areas of the Oakland operation was also formed to carry out the action plan. I could list the results of this work here, but an unsolicited letter we received from Hax McCullough portrays far more eloquently how the experience of our visitors with disabilities has changed because of Regional Asset District funding. You'll find Mr. McCullough's letter on the next page.

We have also benefitted from the Regional Asset District as private citizens. The personal property tax was eliminated, and the entertainment tax on sports and cultural venues was reduced from 10 to five percent. The City of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County benefit too, receiving income from the tax reform measures and relief from the burden of supporting a number of their amenities. In fact, if the city and county had been supporting these 10 organizations over the past three years, at the same level of Regional Asset District funding, they would have spent over $100 million.

From our vantage point, the Regional Asset District is an example of public money doing good things. When you see our museums full of schoolchildren or visit with your family, we hope you agree that a penny on a dollar is a good investment.