Stroll along the streets of Wilkinsburg, and blight is pretty obvious. What isn’t so obvious is the staggering financial impact.
In their 2013 study, Allegheny County’s three COGs determined the direct and indirect costs of blight to the 41 communities in the study area:
- The direct cost to municipal services is $10,720,302.
- The direct cost related to the loss of tax revenue is $8,637,875.
- The indirect costs associated with a loss in property value are estimated at between $218 million and $247 million.
- The indirect costs associated with the loss of real estate taxes due to a decline in property value is estimated to be between $8,574,723 and $9,718,019.
In the summer of 2014, four graduate student interns field-verified every vacant property in Wilkinsburg so that the Borough could get a handle on the number of vacant properties; see a list of vacant properties, alphabetically by street, here.
The Borough has implemented several programs to address the problem of vacant properties:
Allegheny County Vacant Property Recovery Program (VPRP)
This program is run through the Allegheny County Economic Development Department. Tax delinquent property is acquired by the applicant for such uses as a sidelot, rresidential and commercial rehabs, and new construction. It also allows for the purchase of certain tax delinquent structures by qualified buyers. Find more information here and an application here.
Tax Base Expansion Ordinance
The Borough, in conjunction with the Wilkinsburg School District, created a joint committee to develop programs to address the shrinking tax base; provisions of the ordinance include:
- Tax Compromise Program – the ordinance makes it easier to acquire tax-delinquent and abandoned buildings for renovation without having to pay more than their current value in delinquent taxes.
- Temporary Tax Exemption Program – Ten-year graduated tax abatement on improvements to residential, commercial, and mixed-use properties; application is available here.
- Feel free to checkout this handy flow-chart.
The Wilkinsburg Joint Tax Committee on Administrative Process to Reclaim Vacant Properties meets on the last Monday of the month at 6:00 pm in the 2nd floor Council Chambers of the Borough Building; meetings are open to the public.