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LAWRENCE COUNTY Center removes request for help


Published: Wed, September 7, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.


Council was going to vote to give the facility $7,000 if it didn't file for tax-exempt status.
By VIRGINIA ROSS
VINDICATOR CORRESPONDENT
NEW CASTLE, Pa. -- City council no longer has to concern itself with helping the Lawrence County Learning Center meet its financial obligations this year.
Council, at its work session Tuesday, announced the learning center has withdrawn its request for financial assistance.
Council had intended to vote today on a resolution that would provide $7,000 to the center from council's contingency account.
At council's work session last month, Arthur R. Zarone, center executive director, asked the city for $17,000. He said the money would allow the center, at the Columbus Inner Belt, to operate the rest of the year. Several council members said they would agree to provide $7,000, an amount Zarone said would allow the center to continue operating until the first week of October.
Councilman Rob Ratkovich opposed the move, however, explaining he was concerned the center would apply for tax-exempt status and that the city would lose tax revenue from the facility.
Later that week, at its public meeting, council delayed acting on the matter until an amendment could be added to the resolution stipulating that council would give the center $7,000, providing the center agreed not to file for tax-exempt status.
Also, if the institution were to become tax exempt, it would be required to return to the city all the money the city has given to the center.
The center recently purchased the building it occupies and has filed for nonprofit status.
Ratkovich also challenged the county commissioners to match the city's contribution to the center. Earlier this year, the city gave the center $10,000.
Council President Christine Sands said Zarone, in a letter to council dated Sept. 6, informed council that the center's board of directors had recently met and voted unanimously to withdraw the request to the city for financial assistance.
About the facility
The learning center offers college courses at low cost and allows students to transfer credits to more than 80 colleges and universities, Zarone said. He said the center ran short on money because it did not receive an increase in state funding this year. He noted the majority of students serviced at the center are from the city.
The city gave the center $35,000 last year and $45,000 in 2003. The center's administration had proposed receiving $45,000 this year, but council cut the amount to $10,000 when it adopted the city's budget.
Sands said she did not know whether the center has obtained funding elsewhere.


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