PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — In November, voters in the city of Pittsburgh approved a hike in their property taxes to upgrade the city parks.
But since then, city council has been unable to agree on when to start collecting the tax or where to spend it.
Part of the controversy is over the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy, which operates a number of city parks.
At the time of the referendum, they had a plan on where the tax money should be spent.
Some council members say they don’t want the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy deciding who gets the money and how much.
They believe the money should be divided evenly among all nine council districts.
“To me, the equal distribution is where it enables that money to touch every part of the city right away,” Councilman Anthony Coghill told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Wednesday.
But Councilman Ricky Burgess says the original Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy plan that directs funds to parks with the greatest need is the fairest.
Councilwoman Deb Gross says she hears both viewpoints.
“Absolutely, guarantee that some money comes back to District 7, [some constituents tell her}. And then another set of people are saying, well, poor neighborhoods really do need more investment,” says Gross.
“How do we do both?” she asks.
The split on how to spend the projected $10 million in annual revenue could postpone the collection of the new tax.
“Is it possible you might go through 2020 without a tax?” Jon Delano asked City Council President Theresa Kail-Smith.
“It’s possible,” she says, noting that without a spending plan to upgrade parks, there should be no tax.
“I would not be in favor of collecting that tax until we have a solid plan among council members as to how we are going to allocate it,” adds Coghill.
Both Coghill and Gross are working with their colleagues to find a compromise.
Public hearings on the subject are expected to begin on March 5th.