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Pittsburgh City Council votes to reject Wilkinsburg annexation, for now

Maria Anto
90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council made its final vote to disapprove a Wilkinsburg annexation on Tuesday, with councilors saying they felt that there was not enough information or time to approve it.

The vote was no surprise: Council members had complained for weeks that the legal process for annexation — which was initiated by a petition compiled by Wilkinsburg community development group — gave them little time for deliberation. And last week, councilors said they would reject the annexation drive for now, but revisit after more study.

Councilor Anthony Coghill restated that position Tuesday.

"I feel like this is a necessity to Wilkinsburg and an opportunity for Pittsburgh," he said. "But there's a lot of unanswered questions so I'm not completely in favor of voting for it today."

Council also passed legislation that would allow the city to investigate future annexations and determine whether or not they would be in the city's best interests.

Council President Theresa Kail-Smith said she didn't agree with the process in which council was required to vote for the annexation.

"All somebody had to do was come talk to council in a respectful way," she said. "Instead it was a judge's order shoved down our throats with no opportunity for communication with our residents."

Councilor Ricky Burgess would likely absorb most of Wilkinsburg in his district if it was to be annexed. He said without some intervention, Wilkinsburg could be bankrupt by 2028.

"If we weren't doing their garbage, fire and schools, they may have already been there," he said. "That is why I am probably going to lead the process to incorporate them."

Burgess ultimately voted to disapprove the legislation, but said he would support it if a proposal comes up again next year.