Pittsburgh Council creates fund for controversial parking tax

More than a year after Pittsburgh voters approved a parking tax, councilors on Monday passed a bill saying the city will begin collecting the tax in 2021.

“With today’s approval of the Parks Trust Fund, our city is taking another step in our commitment to justice to work towards a Pittsburgh for All,” said Mayor Bill Peduto, after the council approved the establishment of the fund and raised the proceeds of a. 5 million mark admitted tax had to be placed in it.

The council vote was 6-3, with councilors Anthony Coghill, Deborah Gross and Corey O’Connor voting against.

“I think this is a terrible time to raise the millage,” said Gross, adding that it would add an extra burden to homeowners and renters.

Homeowners are paying an additional $ 50 for every $ 100,000 of the estimated property value with the increase expected to raise approximately $ 10 million each year earmarked for park improvement facilities across the city.

Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy plans to spend $ 57.9 million on parks from 2021 to 2025, including $ 10 million on 18 parks in some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods. In addition, approximately $ 22 million will be spent on park maintenance over a six-year period, nearly $ 12 million on rehabilitation projects, $ 2.5 million on programming, and nearly $ 12 million on planning, management and administration Contingent liabilities required.

Coghill repeated Gross, saying “the timing is just not right” for the rudder.

O’Connor did not publicly state his decision to vote against the tax.

Council President Theresa Kail-Smith said she agreed with the spirit of Coghill and Gross but voted in favor because the city’s parks require work.

“Our parks are being used more now than ever before,” said Kail-Smith, in part because of the coronavirus pandemic that is preventing people from gathering indoors.

“There are a lot of parks that need a lot of attention right now,” said Kail-Smith.

The city’s parks were “vitally important” to the physical, mental and emotional health of residents during the pandemic, Peduto said in a statement made after the council meeting.

“Access to quality parks improves social, health, economic, educational and development outcomes to promote equity and environmental justice for all who use our parks,” said Peduto. “This trust fund is not only an investment in our parks and infrastructure, but also an investment in our people.”

The money will also allow the parks department to increase its workforce, Kail-Smith said.

The money will also help improve “historically underinvested” parks in all neighborhoods and “ensure that every child – and adult – in Pittsburgh can walk to a park in 10 minutes or less,” Peduto said.

Although voters approved the plan in 2019, it called for action by the council on Monday to start collecting the tax.

Tom Davidson is a contributor to Tribune Review. You can contact Tom at 724-226-4715, tdavidson@triblive.com, or on Twitter.

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