Hearing to be held on proposed annexation of Wilkinsburg by Pittsburgh

WILKINSBURG — Pittsburgh City Council is holding a public hearing Saturday to gather input on a proposal to annex neighboring Wilkinsburg and make it the city’s 91st neighborhood.

The proposal has drawn mixed reactions in Wilkinsburg so far.

Bernie Wetzel is a life long Wilkinsburg resident who spent seven years as the board president of Wilkinsburg development corporations.

He says the borough hired two firms to produce data to the City of Pittsburgh that the annexation of Wilkinsburg wouldn’t be a burden to the city but would actually add 1 million dollars a year.

Supporters say the annexation would lower property taxes and provide greater resources for Wilkinsburg residents.

The Wilkinsburg Community Development Corp. has led the effort to consider merging with Pittsburgh “as a pathway to reduce real estate taxes, stabilize the community and improve service quality,” the community group wrote on a website supporting the annexation.

Pittsburgh is home to nearly 303,000 people, while Wilkinsburg has a population of more than 14,000, according to the 2020 Census.

Pittsburgh’s fire department already services Wilkinsburg, and the borough already shares other services with Pittsburgh.

Some worry what may happen if things continue at the current pace. Like Ashley Deal who has lived in Wilkinsburg for 20 years and owned a small business here for 10.

“We’ve continued to lose properties to dilapidation and abandonment we’re losing population at a rate much faster than surrounding communities. I definitely Understand the fears that may come with a merger but the threat that our community faces due to our high property tax rates and the lack of resources are very real.

The proposed annexation requires approval from Pittsburgh City Council. If council approves it, the measure would be scrutinized by a judge. If approved by a judge, it would then be placed on the ballot as a referendum in Wilkinsburg.