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Pittsburgh City Council Hears Public Input About Proposed Annexation Of Wilkinsburg

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- Pittsburgh City Council heard arguments about the idea of Wilkinsburg merging with Pittsburgh during a meeting on Tuesday.

"Pittsburgh getting Wilkinsburg is like buying a house that's been a little dilapidated," said Michael Rose. "Wilkinsburg is a diamond in the rough."

"I can't imagine how we are going to take on Wilkinsburg's debt, their buildings, their contracts," one person said. "We are struggling taking care of what we have here."

A judge recently ruled that a petition for the city to annex Wilkinsburg is valid. Pittsburgh City Council now has about three months to vote on whether to advance the proposed annexation to the final phase: putting it on the ballot in May.

Supporters of the annexation said the merger will lower property taxes in Wilkinsburg and would increase the population of Pittsburgh.

A group against the annexation argues this won't solve Wilkinsburg's problems and residents would have to pay more in wage taxes and rent.

The city of Pittsburgh already provides Wilkinsburg fire protection and trash collection. Schools will become part of the city, but some have already done that.

The president of the city council is still undecided.

"I have a lot of concerns," Pittsburgh City Council President Theresa-Kail Smith said. "We need to know how this is going to affect our school district. We need to know how this is going to affect our city. We need to know how we are going to work through contracts."

County executive Rich Fitzgerald and City Councilman Corey O'Connor have endorsed the annexation.

Five "yes" votes are needed from the council to pass the proposed merger and get it to a referendum. Pittsburgh City Council has until April 5 to make a decision.

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