Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Pittsburgh vs. ...... Lower Merion?

Here is something I didn't catch. According to this article, the Borough (wait, it's not even a borough, it's the) Township of Lower Merion in Eastern PA (2000 pop 59,850) now has more taxable property value within its municipality than does the city of Pittsburgh (2005 pop: 316,718). $13.7 Bil vs. $13.5 Bil. How can that be? Obviously some higher value homes in suburban Lower Merion. Concentration of government and nonprofit property owners is another reason. There is also this little problem of differential property vacancy rates that may not even be accounted for in those numbers. See this Bloomberg story today discussing the issue of vacant properties and property liens in the City of Pittsburgh.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The tax valuation issue is not just the result of non-profit ownership. Pittsburgh has a lot of underutilized property. The housing stock in some neighborhoods is way past its useable life, and the negative effects of the abandonment drive down values even further. The situation will likely get worse, with formerly stable neighborhoods like Bloomfield beginning to turn.
The book on planning in Pittsburgh may have some relevance here. Obviously the city has not done a very good job in modernizing many of the neighborhoods. Folks in the Hill have worked all of their lives and maintained their homes, only to see all of that wealth that others take for granted never materialize because their homes aren't worth more than $15,000. Redeveloping these neighborhoods has pretty big implications from a fiscal, as well as social, perspective.
The city has been dismantling the planning department since the Masloff adminstration. The Bloomberg article was interesting in that all of the facts came from non-profits. The best the city could do is express the mayor's concern (through a spokesperson) that something needed to be done.
There are a lot of regional disadvantages that the city feels are out of its control. This isn’t one of them.

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