Wilkinsburg is nearing a vote on the merger with the Metropolis of Pittsburgh – CBS Pittsburgh
WILKINSBURG, Pa. (KDKA) – Could Wilkinsburg be annexed by the city of Pittsburgh later this year?
This is a question that residents and officials in the district are currently debating.
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A 1903 law allows residents of a parish to petition the Court of Common Pleas for approval of a merger with a neighboring parish. If this neighbor’s – in this case, Pittsburgh – council approves, Wilkinsburg residents will vote in November on whether to join the city.
“People came in over the weekend, so we hit the threshold of 640 I think.” Tracey Evans, executive director of Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation, told KDKA political editor Jon Delano on Monday.
With signatures from 640 residents, proponents of the merger will ask the court in July to order Pittsburgh City Council to vote on adding 15,000 to the city’s declining population.
“Because our borders are so close and complicated, a lot of people think that Wilkinsburg is already part of the city. You have the Penn Avenue corridor, ”says Wilkinsburg Mayor Marita Garrett.
Garrett supports the annexation, saying that fire and garbage disposal along with middle and high school is already run by the city and a merger would lower Wilkinsburg’s taxes.
“Low-income homeowners pay 32 percent more in Wilkinsburg than in the city,” said Evans.
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“Wilkinsburg would be destroyed,” said Wilkinsburg Councilor Denise Edwards.
The Wilkinsburg District Council, which has no say, voted 2-1 against a merger with Pittsburgh.
Edwards says this is about controlling gentrification and development.
“Wilkinsburg has new businesses and new residents as people in East Liberty and Lawrenceville or other places are being pushed out. The question is who will control it and who will win and lose? ”Said Edward.
Edwards says that local control of local services is also important.
“We have a police department and residents can actually go down and talk to the boss,” Edwards said. “Can they do that in town?”
If Pittsburgh City Council votes in favor of annexing Wilkinsburg, then Wilkinsburg residents will have the final say in a referendum. City dwellers do not get a vote.
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It’s not clear if a majority of city councils are in favor of a merger, but lobbying is only just beginning.