Thursday, June 24, 2010

I'll say it out loud

I know the Pierogi's rehiring makes more news around here, but note the little story about the increasing likelihood that the City of Pittsburgh and the Borough of Wilkinsburg may merge fire departments.  It's by far not a new idea, but looks a lot closer to actually happening.

So garbage collection is already merged between the two municipalities... if fire happens then what is next?  Is it not time to publicly talk about a more complete merger of City and Borough? There, I said it.

Dare I even bring this up... but what about the two school districts?

Is it really inconceivable that this could be a future map?

View Larger Map


Anonymous BrianTH said...

As a homeowner in Wilkinsburg with a young child, nothing would please me more than to see a merger of school districts. But I think the City would likely have to be ordered to do that (well, unless the state stepped up with a large incentive package).

Incidentally, that would be a once and future map: Wilkinsburg was annexed in 1873, but then fought back loose in 1876.

Thursday, June 24, 2010 8:13:00 AM  
Anonymous MH said...

If I thought that would happen, I'd buy a house in Wilkinsburg near Frick. The cut in property taxes rates alone would boost the value by quite a bit.

Thursday, June 24, 2010 8:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why should Pittsburgh as an insolvent city want to take on a more insolvent municipality that has even more social and economic problems.

Why should City of Pittsburgh taxpayers want to provide subsidize trash collection, fire and then schools for Wilkinsburg?

The City of Pittsburgh taxpayers are the ones who will absorb the legacy costs associated with pensions, workers comp, ect. while the Wilkinsburg taxpayers only pay yearly fixed fees.

Additionally, when the trash collection started in Wilkinsburg, it was my understanding that Wilkinsburg received or was to receive a higher level of trash collection service than what City of Pittsburgh properties would receive in that City of Pittsburgh trash truck would pick up trash from multi-unit residences that had more than three units. The City of Pittsburgh Environmental Services will not collect trash from apartment complexes with more than three units in the City proper.

Private waste management services should sue the city to stop them from competing with private industry. Wasn't there a case involving the City asphalt plant that said that the City could not sue asphalt to other municipalities as that would put them in competition with private industry? Aren't there provisions in the Home Rule Charter and Optional Plan law that prohibit Pittsburgh from competing with private waste haulers?

If you work for a private trash management company, please consider getting an injunction to stop the city from providing trash removal services to Wilkinsburg. I, as a City resident am fed up with subsidizing not only Wilkinsburg, but the City of Pittsburgh, Department of Public Works employees.

We recently acquired a property in suburban Pittsburgh. As we were preparing the property for occupancy, I told my spouse that we would have to show up on trash day with cash for the trash haulers, since we had put out an excessive amount of trash and since you normally have to "tip" city trash haulers to remove an excessive amount of trash. The neighbors told us not to worry, that the private trash hauler would remove EVERYTHING. We showed up on the morning of trash collection to make sure everything was removed. Not only did the private trash hauler remove all of the trash, we did not have to "tip" him. It must be noted that the private trash hauler has only ONE worker per truck. The ONE worker drove and picked up ALL of the trash. The average city trash truck must have at least 3-4 workers with it and they don't do as a good of a job.

Thursday, June 24, 2010 10:32:00 AM  
Anonymous BrianTH said...

If I thought that would happen, I'd buy a house in Wilkinsburg near Frick. The cut in property taxes rates alone would boost the value by quite a bit.

That is what we did. Not that we were anticipating a windfall--we just liked the area and the house--but in the interests of full disclosure, I am well aware that I am advocating something that would benefit me financially.

Why should Pittsburgh as an insolvent city want to take on a more insolvent municipality that has even more social and economic problems.

They probably wouldn't want to, which is why I mentioned it would probably take the City either being ordered to do so, or being incentivized (aka bribed) to do so.

And the state might do one of those things--in this and other similar cases around the state--for a variety of reasons (e.g., if it thought it would benefit the kids in the more disadvantaged districts, or provide significant financial savings overall, or help redevelopment efforts in the relevant areas, or so on).

By the way, this is all in reference to school district consolidation. Whether full consolidation is necessary or wise is a more complex matter.

Thursday, June 24, 2010 11:08:00 AM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

Well, someone really does not like the suggestion at all.. Thank you for your input.

I'll just mention that I've never had to tip city refuse workers and I have on occassion put out quite a lot of trash. Never even heard of anyone trying to tip them even. Maybe it was common practice in the past?? nor have I ever seen trash uncollected from any neighbors even when they have large amounts. I'm pretty sure they have never considered tipping the workers, or even being present when they come around. Just saying is all.

Thursday, June 24, 2010 11:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Every Christmas I think about tipping the garbage men, but never get around to it. They do a great job.

Thursday, June 24, 2010 11:32:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my 25-odd years of living in the city, I've never heard of tipping workers. Everything I've ever put out has been taken, and sometimes it was a lot of bulk stuff

Thursday, June 24, 2010 11:34:00 AM  
Anonymous MH said...

I've never had any trouble with trash not getting taken either. And I've never tipped or been asked to tip.

Some of my neighbors put out their trash in giant bins that are against regulation. The guys always take the trash in those case.

Frankly, I think the requirement that multi-unit residences use private haulers is a good idea. The city doesn't have trucks to handle dumpsters and multi-unit residences using cans and bags would make the place look just terrible. Most of the tenants don't have the space to put the trash in between pick-ups.

Thursday, June 24, 2010 11:35:00 AM  
Anonymous MH said...

On reflection, the trash collectors are the only city workers that I've had no trouble with excepting those that I've never dealt with. The city trash collection is clearly not as efficient as I've seen in other places because it is not as automated (i.e. they don't require everybody to use the same rolling, machine unloadable container). My guess is that they cannot because of the large numbers of houses with no level path to wheel something to the street.

Thursday, June 24, 2010 11:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All this talk about garbage when the new proposal is about fire departments?

How come nobody points out the black eye or small hole in the map (south Pittsburgh)- Mount Oliver, who *gosh* uses the PPS.

I think an over all look at public services fire/police/garbage,etc on the outlining fringe neighborhoods would really shock a lot of people.

Thursday, June 24, 2010 12:38:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

If we annexed Churchill and West Homestead, Pittburgh would like kind of like the head of a dinosaur about to eat Braddock.

Thursday, June 24, 2010 7:47:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

The City of Pittsburgh taxpayers are the ones who will absorb the legacy costs associated with pensions, workers comp, ect. while the Wilkinsburg taxpayers only pay yearly fixed fees.

You know.. that perception is the problem, but the reality is different. I just looked up the 2007 numbers which I could do quickly and the Wilkinsburg Pension plans for Fire, municipal and police workers were funded at ratios of 81%, 92% and 102% respectively.. that and I don't think it's general obligation debt levels are proportionally that high. I bet when you add it up it's not the issue you think it is.. that it may be that City of Pittsburgh residents would see their per capita legacy costs go down with a merger with Wilkinsburg.

But perception is reality when it comes to politics.

Thursday, June 24, 2010 10:16:00 PM  
Blogger Caesar said...

Nope, never heard of anyone tipping a Pittsburgh sanitation worker, pretty sure that its strictly against their policy to accept such gifts.

As a city resident and supporter of mergers and consolidation I am looking forward to moving to Wilkinsburg in a month. There are some great neighborhoods there but the situation with its school district deters many would-be home buyers. Also, I don't think the ban on serving alcohol in the borough is helpful for economic development.

Friday, June 25, 2010 11:01:00 AM  
Anonymous johnnyg said...

You're right (of course), Briem. Despite the perception, Wilkinsburg's finances are decent, if not great. Wilkinsburg ended up in Act 47 due to embezzlement (and emerged a long time ago).

And, Anon, Wilkinsburg gets a higher level of service because it pays the City to haul its trash. the City beat out Waste Management.

Finally, those of us in most suburbs PAY for private trash hauling, either directly or through a service levy. So, yeah, you're comparing apples and oranges.

Friday, June 25, 2010 4:03:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

Wilkinsburg ended up in Act 47 due to embezzlement...

They also pay 6% property taxes, which, given the rates of nearby towns, is pretty much the same thing as putting up a sign that says "No new construction or rehab visible from the street."

Friday, June 25, 2010 4:09:00 PM  
Anonymous johnnyg said...

MH--I thought that Wilkinsburg had a 10-year tax abatement program for new construction and/or rehabs, put into effect after a study by the management specialists at CMU?

Saturday, June 26, 2010 12:20:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

If so, they didn't do publicity very well. Which means, they very well could have an abatement.

Saturday, June 26, 2010 1:08:00 PM  
Anonymous BrianTH said...

There is information about the abatement here (at the top, under Tax Base Expansion Ordinance):

The linked forms contain additional information.

I do wish this was better known, but it is a new program, and I guess this is part of getting the word out.

Saturday, June 26, 2010 11:35:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

That would explain a couple of houses I've seen on Craigslist.

Sunday, June 27, 2010 12:21:00 AM  

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