Monday, January 5, 2009

More Money For Dan to Justify Spending on Roads

Allegheny County has been awarded $5.5 million from the Housing & Economic Recovery Act of 2008. Pittsburgh has gotten $2 million - the minimum permitted under law because the city and area have barely been hit by this national crisis.

It's ironic to me that Allegheny County is whining about needing to increase property taxes when the rest of the nation is severely suffering with foreclosed homes and abandoned properties. Shouldn't we be doing relatively well? Why is the county having a hard time balancing its budget? Does it have to do with a new sports facility?

Well, Allegheny County, here's some extra money for your budget. Under the act, the money is intended for "states and localities to buy foreclosed homes standing empty, rehabilitate foreclosed properties and stabilize the housing market." I'm sure that Onorato can find some way to justify spending this money on roads and bridges. Houses are adjacent to roads after all, and you can't have a stable housing market without nice roads.

I will end this post with a (lengthy) plea to County Council:

I don't care if you raise property taxes, but pretty-please-with-a-cherry-on-top, re-assess property values. I'm echoing the Pittsburgh Comet here and I whole-heartedly agree with him.

Heck, you may find out that you don't need to raise the millage rate if your collecting money on housing values that actually reflect the cost of housing in this area. Pittsburgh and Allegheny County did not as a whole experience the housing boom of areas like Boston and San Francisco. However, certain neighborhoods have, like the South Side, and certain neighborhoods have had plumetting housing values over the past 6 years. It's ridiculous to double-penalize folks who live in houses whose values have dropped significantly, while double-rewarding folks like me whose property values have increased. Make me pay my fair share. Because I guarantee that I'm not about to make a donation in good faith to the county.

1 comment:

EdHeath said...

Well, reassessing would indeed be a very fair thing to do. It might raise revenue, although I think the bursting of the housing bubble would suggest that it wouldn’t. Certainly people in Garfield, Homewood, Larrimor or the Hill could use some property relief. I still remember that Chris Briem suggested some houses in some of Pittsburgh’s poorer neighborhoods might most properly be assessed at a negative value (you would have to pay someone to move in).

That said, I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for a property reassessment. First, they are apparently expensive. Not simply to send people around to either eyeball properties from the street or (worse yet) actually look inside a house, but also because of the inevitable appeals. Second, the people hit hardest, those who have spent money improving a property or those who live in up and coming neighborhoods, are also likely voters who will back candidates who promise not to make pay more taxes. Well, ok, everyone’s like that, but homeowners who have made improvements probably also give money to political candidates. Those who have run down properties probably do not give a whole lot of money. So a property reassessment hits exactly the voters you don’t want to annoy. Third, Allegheny County is still waiting (I believe) for the State Supreme Court to rule on how exactly property should be assessed in the State. The case in question was actually brought against Allegheny County, so if the County reassesses property now, it is like thumbing our noses at the Courts, saying we don’t care what you say. Actually, the County would like the State Legislature to step in and act. However, they ain’t dumb. The legislature knows how dangerous an issue property taxes are. I suspect they are also waiting for the Supreme Court. I suspect that Onorato will only reassess property taxes as a last resort. Keeping his current job is much higher on to do list.