TribLive is reporting that Pittsburgh City Council President Kail-Smith introduced legislation that would end the municipal annexation effort through the council officially voting against it.
The gist reflects one of the core ideas that Wilkinsburg Future and other resident groups, non-profits, and elected officials against annexation have been promoting: that this annexation, if warranted, should have come from Wilkinsburg elected officials following a mandate from residents, not from a group of unaccountable but well-funded residents under a rarely-if-ever used state law.
Although council held meetings on the matter, Kail-Smith said she felt council still did not have enough information to endorse annexation. She said unanswered questions remained on topics such as merging school districts, the amount of vacant property in Wilkinsburg and various financial ramifications.
“I just think there are a lot of people who are accountable who need to have those numbers,” she said. “If they don’t have those numbers, it makes me very suspicious of the whole process. I want numbers that are authentic from people who will be held accountable to the public.”
Councilman Ricky Burgess, whose district is adjacent to Wilkinsburg, said he felt Wilkinsburg residents weren’t properly involved or informed on the annexation. Both Wilkinsburg and his City Council district have a high population of Black residents, but Burgess said he felt Black residents weren’t the ones leading the annexation effort. He said he didn’t want them to be impacted by a movement of which they weren’t a part.
While not opposed to the concept of joining Pittsburgh and Wilkinsburg, Burgess said he is opposed to the seemingly rushed process that may have left some Black residents feeling left behind.
“I do not propose to have a shotgun wedding with Wilkinsburg,” he said. “I intend to court her, to listen to her and to find common ground.”
Read Pittsburgh City Council poised to dismiss Wilkinsburg annexation proposal over at TribLive. Also, Post-Gazette covered it in Councilman Ricky Burgess warns against ‘shotgun wedding’ between Pittsburgh and Wilkinsburg and WESA in Pittsburgh City Council introduces bill to stop Wilkinsburg annexation. The ordinance text is available here.
Note that the Wilkinsburg school board is still investigating a school district merger, the result of which would still raise taxes similar to the full municipal merger, just less: 2.5% total wage tax instead of 3% in the full merger, no reduction in municipal real estate property tax, and the school tax would remain the same as the full merger calculation. See the calculator for your own estimation.