July 30, 2017
hough last week’s post agenda meeting on legislation to finance Pittsburgh’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund via a one-percent hike in the realty transfer tax produced less than a dozen residents who objected, it also revealed that five of the nine City Councilmembers do object to the proposal.
Councilmembers Theresa Kail-Smith and Darlene Harris said July 18 that they and three others will not vote for the increase. Kail-Smith said the five “have an alternate concept” in mind but would not discuss any details.
Councilman Rev. Ricky Burgess, who, along with Councilman R. Daniel Lavelle, brought the funding legislation to council, said Kail-Smith’s comments were just “council talk,” and that he remains confident the funding measure will be approved after Council returns from its August recess.
“We will work with Council to get a compromise to get the best funding vehicle to fund the trust,” he told the New Pittsburgh Courier. “There are conversations that we will have over the recess. There is a consensus that (developing more affordable housing) is a priority, so I’m confident we’ll fund it.”
Reverend Burgess reiterated that outside the realty transfer tax, the only other tax increase available to create the $10 million in annual funds for the trust Council already voted to approve—without approval from Harrisburg—would be a property tax increase.
According to figures from Rev. Burgess’ office, there were 5,097 sales subject to the real estate transfer tax in 2016, as opposed to more than 143,000 buildings subject to property taxes.
“So, we’re talking about affecting a much smaller number of people,” said Rev. Burgess. “I think it’s the best way to go. This may be the greatest opportunity to get significant resources from the city to rebuild communities of isolated poverty. We still need community support, but we will work this out before we come back. I’m very confident, and it does help to have the mayor’s support, doesn’t it?”
Opponents say the tax is counterproductive because it can keep potential homeowners from buying in the city, and would decrease rather than increase the tax base. Reverend Burgess and Lavelle said the legislation would make lower- and middle-income homebuyers eligible for extra assistance that would be more than enough to cover the higher transfer tax.
Mayor Bill Peduto has already said he will sign legislation approving the realty transfer.
Read the Pittsburgh Courier article at: https://newpittsburghcourieronline.com/2017/07/30/burgess-remains-confident-on-housing-trust-funding/2/