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Ballot initiative will charge most homeowners annual fee to help fund children's programs

A ballot initiative will charge most homeowners in Allegheny County an annual fee to help fund children's programs.

"Kids are our candidates and people should want to vote yes for something for kids," said Dave Coplan, Human Services Center director.

Coplan said 6,700 kids in Allegheny County are on a waiting list for Pre-K programs and the trust fund would pay for early intervention, after-school and nutrition programs.

Ten nonprofits are asking voters to approve a property tax hike of about $30 a year for the average homeowner to support the fund.

Not everyone in the area approves of the idea.

"No one in their right mind would be against feeding children, educating children and providing after-school programs, but again, not only has it already been done, now you are further taxing us to do that without providing us the proper oversight," said Rev. De Neice Welch.

Welch is the president of the Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network of more than 40 churches from all denominations.


She said they were never approached about the initiative and feel like the minority community has been left out of the process.

"You didn't have town hall discussions in our communities and it's just unfair. It's disrespectful and it's unfair," Welch said.

But Coplan said they've been very transparent from the beginning when they gathered 63,000 signatures to get on the ballot. And he says an advisory council run by the county manager would administer the funds a much as $18 million a year to nonprofits who apply.

We've put together a transparency with an advisory commission as well as financial and public reporting on the impact and we'd like to think the public will see kids as a priority.

Voters in Allegheny County will decide the trust fund on election day on November 6.