RAD Board of Directors Holds Special Meeting
For Updates from Treasurer, Allocations Committee,
Library Committee, and Executive Director.
Pittburgh, PA (June 18, 2020). The Allegheny Regional Asset District (RAD) Board of Directors held a special meeting on Thursday, June 18, 2020 via Zoom to discuss the current financial situation as it pertains to the COVID-19 shutdown, receiving reports from the Treasurer, the Allocations Committee, the Library Committee, and the Executive Director.
Board Chair Dusty Elias Kirk called the meeting to order, stating that due to the pandemic, this meeting was being held virtually and with call-in options, was publicly advertised, and was in compliance with the Sunshine Act.
The Board unanimously approved the minutes from the May 21, 2020 meeting, which can be accessed here.
Treasurer Sylvia Fields submitted a report on RAD’s financial position, stating that June’s revenue was $5.8 million, or 32 percent below RAD’s original budgeted projection. Year-to-date, RAD revenue is down $4.4 million compared to last year. Ms. Fields stated that RAD expects revenue to continue to be lower than original budgeted projections in the coming months due to the economic challenges we are experiencing. RAD has distributed $47.9 million in 2020 grants so far this year; that number includes $1.6 million in prior year capital grant payments. That total accounts for monthly operational payments to the contractual assets, the first two quarterly operational payments to mid-to-large grantees, and the annual operational payments to assets that are awarded $25,000 or less. Ms. Fields reported that RAD’s administrative expenses remain on budget.
On behalf of the Allocations Committee, Anthony Ross submitted a report, which recommended not making any further adjustments at this time to RAD’s revised budget reflecting a 20 percent reduction in all 2020 operating grants and a freeze on all outstanding 2020 capital grants. He noted that the assets were made aware of the reduction and as RAD has remained in close communication with the assets throughout the shutdown, it did not come as a complete surprise.
Mr. Ross then addressed Ms. Kirk’s request from the May 21st meeting for the Allocations Committee to further review outstanding matters regarding RAD funding for Pittsburgh Center for Arts & Media (PCA&M). With guidance provided by RAD’s counsel James Norris, the Committee recommended all matters regarding capital contract extensions and suspended operating support be moved from the table and denied, including 2020 operating funds as PCA&M has become structurally and operationally a different organization than what RAD initially funded. Mr. Ross stated that the Committee is highly encouraged by PCA&M’s new leadership and invites them to apply for 2021 RAD funding. The Board unanimously approved the Allocation Committee’s recommendations.
Daniel Griffin submitted a report of the Library Committee, which has met several times since its last report to the Board in February. Mr. Griffin reported that the Allegheny County Library Association (ACLA) is working with RAD to reevaluate its funding distribution formula in order to ensure that libraries in distressed communities receive the support they need. ACLA’s formula task force has proposed an increased percentage for libraries in distressed communities and a recalculation of the way distressed communities are defined using poverty level statistics. RAD’s Library Committee gave input to ACLA leadership at its most recent meeting on how the criteria of the formula might continue to be reexamined and ACLA will present another iteration next month after its board meets. Mr. Griffin noted that ACLA was going to be more assertive with municipalities that are not currently supporting their libraries, and that RAD is fully behind that effort.
Mr. Griffin also reported that as of this month, ten libraries have opted into the pilot testing of three shared services projects, which are being supported by a $38,000 connection grant from RAD to Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. Currently, participants are engaged in assessments of either fundraising, facilities, or HR infrastructure and the customization of policies, procedures, and practices that will help to address each in more efficient and effective ways moving forward. These pilot projects will continue through the end of the month and upon conclusion, their outcomes will be incorporated into a final design for full-scale shared services, which are expected to launch in late 2020 or early 2021.
The Board voiced their support for the urgency of addressing libraries in distressed communities and noted that this pandemic has magnified the importance of our libraries.
Rich Hudic, RAD’s Executive Director, gave an update to the Board announcing that the 2019 annual report is complete and will be going out next week. He also discussed this year’s RADical Days, noting that due to the pandemic and some of our assets’ uncertainty around reopening, RADical Days will look much different this year. RAD staff will be engaging the Advisory Board as well as asset staff to brainstorm possibilities, including the idea of having “RADical Seasons” and presenting free RADical Days events throughout the year. Mr. Hudic also discussed the application season for 2021, noting that around 40 organizations have begun their applications, which are due July 8. Mr. Hudic is working with the staff and the Allocations Committee to determine what this year’s public hearings will look like. Finally, Mr. Hudic announced that RAD will play a key role alongside the Governor’s Center for Local Government Services, the State Department of Community Economic Development, Allegheny County, and the Allegheny League of Municipalities, in a public webinar on July 16 which will focus on Allegheny County’s municipalities.
Ms. Kirk closed the meeting by acknowledging the uncertainty and inequality that is being experienced across the country and here in Pittsburgh, noting the heaviness of the moment and the fortitude of our region. The Board echoed Ms. Kirk’s thoughts.
The Board will meet again in August for public hearings on 2021 applications.