Border Guard Bob comes out of retirement
But if anyone thinks the issue of young people leaving the city is something new, let's go through the history. Mayor Caliguiri had the Department of City Planning do a survey of residents who were leaving the city proper in the 1980's. I have the results of that survey scanned here:
The Impact of the Earned Income Tax on Locational Decisions and the City of Pittsburgh.
City of Pittsburgh Department of City Planning. April 1987
Actually I have it in pieces. Here is Part 2; Part3
There is no big surprise here. For those who left the city proper, but stayed in the region the answer was simple: taxes were pushing people out of the city. Here is the key quote from the study's conclusions:
Pittsburgh, sixty-five percent of former City residents who were surveyed identified taxes as a factor in their decision to move.65%!!! Do we really need to study this question any more? It's not the lack of 24 hour coffee shops.. not housing or lack thereof... not all sorts of things that we talk about when it comes to keeping young people, and in particular young families who are planning for the long haul, from leaving the city. If someone can move literally a few blocks away away and save serious money in doing so, what is the mystery here? Seriously, read the study and ask yourself what question needs to be addressed. The question has been asked and answered as systematically and objectively as it can be.
Disproportionate taxation compared to what you can get just by living in a nearby municipality is the city's Achilles heel. The fact that the city of Pittsburgh is so small that our inner suburbs would be close enough to be city neighborhoods in most any other large city in the US. So you can essentially get all the city living you want, yet not have to live with city taxes.
But the history does not end there. It then turns out that this report was referenced by Mayor Masloff as the prime reason why there needed to be tax reform in the city. In particular she pushed the idea that the city's wage tax needed to be lowered in order to keep younger workers in the city. She advocated for a revenue neutral tax shift with a complementary higher property tax. In the end the wage tax did wind up getting lowered by 1.125 % points. Property taxes were never raised enough to really make up for the wage tax lost. In many ways that episode of trying to 'keep out young people from leaving' created the structural budget deficit in the city for the following decade and directly lead to the current fiscal miasma Downtown. Amazing how it all is tied together.
So if the new commission is to have any teeth and not just engage in cliches... maybe someone should update that survey? I certainly would like to know if the answers are the same. Barring that, what could be the answer? more cupcakes?