From left to right, commission candidates Keywanda Ballard-Battle, Kim Kaplan and Jacquet Kehm at a press conference in Wilkinsburg Tuesday. (Photo by Charlie Wolfson/PublicSource)
With the annexation question still dividing Wilkinsburg, home rule advocates launch a process that could bring tax shifts, government restructuring.
by Charlie Wolfson, PublicSource
Wilkinsburg voters will have an extra question on their ballots for the Nov. 8 election, asking if a government study commission should be convened in the borough.
While some in the borough are still working to make Wilkinsburg part of Pittsburgh, the ballot question is endorsed by a group that thinks Wilkinsburg can solve its own problems. The question was triggered by a petition supported by the anti-annexation group Wilkinsburg Future, and proponents say its purpose is to chart a path forward for the borough.
- If the ballot measure is approved, a commission would study whether Wilkinsburg should change its form of government and potentially adopt a home rule charter.
- It has no legal or technical connection to the concept of Pittsburgh annexing Wilkinsburg.
- Even if the study is approved by voters this November, the resulting recommendations could be rejected by voters later.
Keywanda Ballard-Battle, a candidate to sit on the commission, said at a Tuesday press conference that the study would be a “magnifying glass and a mirror” for the borough, tasked to “evaluate, not merely criticize” the local government.
Pennsylvania boroughs have the option to become home rule municipalities, which affords them the flexibility to change their form of government and adjust tax laws. A government study commission is the first step toward enacting these changes. A commission would study options and make a recommendation, which could then be approved by the voters in a later election.