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November Ballot Question Puts Tax Hike In The Hands Of Allegheny County Voters

Virginia Alvino Young
90.5 WESA
The majority of after-school program funding comes from state and federal sources, but an increase in county taxes could mean more children have access to activities.

Registered voters in Allegheny County can expect a question on the ballot this November about a small raise in property taxes to support after-school, early learning and nutrition programs for county kids.

Organizers of the Allegheny County Children’s Fund initiative are hoping residents vote yes. Patrick Dowd, a steering committee member of the proposal and executive director of Allies for Children, joined The Confluence to talk about the campaign. The 0.25 millage rate increase would make youth programs more accessible to families in the county, Dowd said.

He was joined by Eric Montarti, research director for the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy, on the Confluence. The two talked about this strategy of increasing taxes to garner funding for kids programs rather than seeking revenue from other places. 

If the additional tax is approved, a homeowner would pay an additional $25 annually on each $100,000 of assessed value. The average market value for a home in Allegheny County is approximately $137,000.

Elsewhere in the show, the final part of StateImpact Pennsylvania's series on the Mariner East 2 pipeline. The pipeline is expected to open this month and will carry natural gas liquids through some of the most densely populated parts of the state. The Allegheny Front’s Reid Frazier reports that companies that own pipelines — like the Mariner East and one that recently exploded in Beaver County — face few regulations over where these pipelines can be built

Credit Mick Stinelli / WESA
Allegheny County Health Director Dr. Karen Hacker

The 15th annual State of Obesity report by Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation was released this month and Pennsylvania is in the middle of the pack among states with 31.6 percent of adults considered obese.   

Allegheny County Health Director Karen Hacker joined the show to talk about how inequality plays a role in a person’s risk for obesity, as unhealthy food is readily accessible and often less expensive than healthy food. She also described about the county’s effort to increase blood-lead level testing among kids in the county. 

The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators join veteran journalist Kevin Gavin, taking an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here.

Kiley Koscinski covers city government, policy and how Pittsburghers engage with city services. She also works as a fill-in host for All Things Considered. Kiley has previously served as a producer on The Confluence and Morning Edition.
Megan Harris is a writer, editor, photographer and curator for Pittsburgh's NPR News station. She leads editorial coverage for The Confluence, 90.5 WESA's live, one-hour, daily morning news show.
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