WILKINSBURG – Pittsburgh City Council is holding a public hearing Saturday to gather comments on a proposal to annex neighboring Wilkinsburg as the city’s 91st ward.
The proposal has received mixed reactions in Wilkinsburg so far.
Bernie Wetzel is a longtime Wilkinsburg resident who served for seven years as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Wilkinsburg Development Companies.
He says the borough hired two companies to provide data to the city of Pittsburgh that annexing Wilkinsburg would not be a burden on the city but would actually add $ 1 million a year.
Supporters say the annexation would lower property taxes and provide more resources to residents of Wilkinsburg.
The Wilkinsburg Community Development Corp. led the effort to consider amalgamating with Pittsburgh “as a means of reducing property taxes, stabilizing the community and improving the quality of service,” the community group written on a website supporting annexation.
Pittsburgh is home to nearly 303,000 people, while Wilkinsburg is home to over 14,000 residents, according to the 2020 census.
The Pittsburgh Fire Department already serves Wilkinsburg, and the borough already shares other services with Pittsburgh.
Some are worried about what might happen if things continue at the current pace. Like Ashley Deal who has lived in Wilkinsburg for 20 years and has had a small business there for 10 years.
âWe have continued to lose properties due to decay and abandonment, we are losing population at a much faster rate than surrounding communities. I certainly understand the fears that can accompany a merger, but the threat our community faces from our high property tax rates and lack of resources is very real.
The proposed annex requires the approval of Pittsburgh City Council. If the board approves it, the measure will be reviewed by a judge. If approved by a judge, then it would be put on the ballot in a referendum in Wilkinsburg.