Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The unspeakable merger of Pittsburgh and Wilkinsburg

It looks like talks are ongoing about a possible merger (annexation?) of Wilkinsburg school district into the Pittsburgh School district.  Actually, the talk is more about whether the Wilkinsburg students will attend schools in Pittsburgh. Actually getting rid of the school district is a more difficult matter. School districts are distinct political entities, but would it make sense for the two districts to continue to exist long into the future if the student transfer lasted for long into the future? It begs other questions about what the future is of any future consolidation of municipal services between the City of Pittsburgh and the Borough of Wilkinsburg?  Remember the city of Pittsburgh already provides garbage collection and fire services to Wilkinsburg.

What if..  yes, what if... Wilkinsburg merges with the City of Pittsburgh?

Unthinkable?  Disruptive? If the city of Pittsburgh (2014 population estimate = 305,705) merges with the Borough of Wilkinsburg (population 15,930) then the 'new' City of Pittsburgh with a population of 321,635 will move from being the 62nd largest city in the United States to become the....  55th largest city.  OMG. Too much change to think about.  Soon who knows? Pittsburgh will merge with Fox Chapel and then who knows what will happen next?

One thing I can almost guarantee if any solid merger were to become possible.. the adjustment to Wilkinsburg's incredibly high property tax rates will be capitalized into real estate values pretty quickly.  In other words...  the potential land speculation in Wilkinsburg will have already started. .



12 Comments:

Anonymous BrianTH said...

The elementary schools in Wilkinsburg are actually doing OK now. It is the middle school/high school grades where everything falls apart. So a deal just for the upper grades could make a lot of sense, at least for now.

I'm not sure a full merger is very likely, nowadays. Wilkinsburg has gotten its city budget under control, its governance is now pretty good, it now allows liquor licenses . . . the school situation is the last really big issue (of course it was always the biggest, but still).

As we implicitly discussed in that old thread, it is entirely possible the City and Wilkinsburg can work out a win-win for the upper grades where Wilkinsburg saves a lot more than it has to pay the City, but the City gets a lot more financial support than its marginal cost per student. Wilkinsburg could then lower its school tax rate, the combination of better schools and lower taxes could improve property values, tax rates could go lower still . . .

There is a lot that would have to happen between here and there, but I think that is a plausible path forward that would capture most of what really needs to be done, without the same massive political and administrative effort a full merger would require.

Friday, July 24, 2015 7:39:00 PM  
Blogger NEO said...

Interesting parallel with what is being discussed at the other end of Cleveburgh. The suburb of East Cleveland is in talks with the City of Cleveland to undergo a similar merger. Change happens?

Saturday, July 25, 2015 5:39:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

So far, a merger with Wilkinsburg appears to be moving as fast as Chuck McCollough's trial.

Monday, July 27, 2015 1:54:00 PM  
Anonymous MH said...

Guess not. Never mind.

Friday, July 31, 2015 2:46:00 PM  
Anonymous The Wiz said...

What? No mention of LST 325 visiting over the weekend?

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