Allegheny County Councilman Bill Robinson (D-Hill District) is asking for $10 million to $15 million in capital funds from the city and county to bail out the financially strapped August Wilson Center for African American Culture.
About $7 million would be used to pay off the center’s unpaid bills, including its mortgage, and keep the facility, which is facing liquidation. The legislation was introduced in County Council by Robinson who did not respond to a request for comment for this story.
Last year, Robinson was denied a similar request of $500,000 in county capital grants for the center, and County Council President John DeFazio (D-Shaler) said his latest proposal should meet the same fate.
“Everybody said they would try to help in their own way any way that makes sense,” he said. “The way he’s going at it, I think it’s a dead issue.”
DeFazio said capital funding is supposed to go toward things like road and bridge repair, not outside entities.
“You’re not supposed to pull it from there and there would need to be a lot of money to take care of everything that needs to be done in the area,” he said. “Even if you were allowed, I don’t there would be enough money right now to take out when you have more important things right now.”
Robinson’s plan would allow the city and county to take capital from projects that haven’t been started and use it toward the center. The money would then be topped off the next time the city and county float more bonds — borrow money — for capital improvements.