WILKINSBURG – Pittsburgh City Council is holding a public hearing on Saturday to collect input on a proposal to annex neighboring Wilkinsburg and make it the city’s 91st neighborhood.
The proposal has so far generated mixed reactions in Wilkinsburg.
Bernie Wetzel is a lifelong resident of Wilkinsburg who served as Chairman of the Board of Wilkinsburg Development Companies for seven years.
He says the district hired two companies to provide the city of Pittsburgh with data that the annexation of Wilkinsburg would not be a burden on the city, but actually mean $ 1 million a year.
Proponents say the annexation would lower property taxes and give Wilkinsburg residents greater resources.
The Wilkinsburg Community Development Corp. has spearheaded efforts to consider merging with Pittsburgh “to lower property taxes, stabilize the community and improve service quality,” the community group wrote on a website that supported the annexation.
Pittsburgh has nearly 303,000 residents, according to the 2020 census, while Wilkinsburg has more than 14,000 residents.
Pittsburgh’s Fire Department already serves Wilkinsburg, and the district already shares other services with Pittsburgh.
Some worry about what could happen if things continue at the current pace. Like Ashley Deal, who has lived in Wilkinsburg for 20 years and ran a small business here for 10 years.
“We have continued to lose real estate to decay and abandonment, we are losing population much faster than surrounding communities. I definitely understand the fears that may come with a merger, but the threat our community faces due to our high property tax rates and lack of resources is very real.
The planned extension requires the approval of the Pittsburgh City Council. If the council agrees, the measure will be reviewed by a judge. If approved by a judge, it would then be put on the ballot in a Wilkinsburg referendum.