Could Munis Create a Second Regional Police Force in the County?

A meeting that was to take place last night between four municipalities in the Allegheny Valley (not a public meeting, but a closed discussion) could possibly open discussions to have another multi-municipal police force in the County (the Northern Regional force is a four municipality police department in the North Hills).  As this blog from June noted, the vast majority of municipalities in the County provide police service “in house” with their own police employees.

So Sharpsburg, Aspinwall, O’Hara and Blawnox will have at least sat down and discussed the possibility.  Who knows how far things will progress: usually turf battles, seniority, community pride, and finances come into play and mergers and consolidations bog down and don’t go much past the talking part.  In all there are about 30 police employees in the four municipalities.

There are possible benefits to joining together: more community oriented policing and investigations handled by the multi-municipal force instead of Allegheny County could be two such benefits.  Whether they outweigh the costs is what has to be considered.

Based on a 2014 LBFC study there were 35 regional (multi-municipal) police departments in the state, and in the fiscal years 2010-11 through 2012-13 there were seven grants awarded to regional police forces through the Department of Community and Economic Development’s Municipal Assistance Program.  The LBFC study found that “loss of control” was the most often cited obstacle for municipalities expressing a desire to move forward with a regional consolidation.

As we have written in the past, if it makes sense for municipalities to combine services and save taxpayers money, by all means they should go for it.  If the latest four communities end up making a go, there might be a possibility that other municipalities will be encouraged to explore combining services, whether they be public safety or some other municipal service.

When Will the ICA’s Lights Go Out?

Summary: In December a hearing was held by the Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) to decide whether or not to rescind Act 47 distressed status for the City of Pittsburgh. If rescinded, the separate Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (ICA or oversight board) would still be in place. The current state budget provides no funding for the ICA to pay its bills, threatening its viability.

 

Recently we wrote about the much improved practices of the oversight board, especially pertaining to the auditing and reporting requirements under the terms of Act 11 of 2004, which was amended by Act 99 of 2016. These requirements include the completion of an audit and sending it to legislative committees that deal with appropriations.

The appropriations process was not kind to the ICA as the Legislature provided no funding for the oversight board in the $31 billion state budget. As noted by the executive director of the ICA at the September 28 board meeting “…our appropriation request for the fiscal year ’18 was zeroed out before the budget was approved by the House and the Senate.” Under Community and Economic Development the line for Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority—2nd Class Cities shows a 100 percent reduction from the year earlier appropriation of $250,000.

With reserves exhausted and no state funding, the ICA board, having fulfilled the 2016 requirements regarding record keeping and transparency and facing the strong possibility that Pittsburgh’s Act 47 distressed status will soon be lifted, passed a resolution on January 8 that makes two very substantial requests.

First, it asks the General Assembly to amend language that stipulates the ICA continue until Act 47 status for Pittsburgh is rescinded or June 30, 2019, whichever is later. The ICA wants the law changed to allow the DCED Secretary to certify dissolution of both financial overseers at the same time. The details contained in the resolution of the oversight board’s activities would serve as the final report to be delivered to state officials as required by authority law.

Second, the ICA requests the City of Pittsburgh execute a written agreement that will provide the ICA with $37,000 of the gaming money paid to the city as its local share assessment from slots revenue. The board believes this would fund the ICA’s obligations until it is dissolved in the very near future. Moreover, receiving the funding from the city would be a condition of the city getting its gaming money appropriation. Act 11 states that the authority can ask for funding that exceeds state funding (which in this year’s case would be any amount above zero) from the assisted city for “…reasonable and necessary expenses and costs incurred for consultants engaged by the board to carry out its duties.” By law, the city “shall” provide the funding. On January 16 Pittsburgh City Council took up a resolution to provide the money. Once the agreement is executed the funds would be distributed according to the law until the ICA’s dissolution or February 28, 2018, whichever is later. If the ICA has not been dissolved by February 28, then there might have to be more funding requests to the city.

All this begs the question: why was the ICA not funded in the state budget appropriations in light of the fact that it was statutorily mandated to continue through at least June 30, 2019? Perhaps the Legislature anticipated the City of Pittsburgh would be coming out of Act 47 distressed status and that the oversight board could also go. But that is not what the law as amended in 2016 provides.

If the state does not amend the statute to permit concurrent dissolution of Act 47 and the ICA as the resolution requests, is the ICA supposed to struggle along with no funding as best it can until it reaches the current statutory end date? It is not clear how the board and its employee are supposed to function for the next year and a half with expenses to be paid, meeting minutes to be typed up, records to be maintained, audits to be conducted and submitted to the Legislature and financial summaries to be prepared and submitted to the Pennsylvania Bulletin. Maybe the state anticipated the city’s gaming money would be requested by the ICA and diverted to pay the ICA’s bills for the year. All of which depends on a timely agreement by the city to provide the funds.

Imagine a scenario wherein the General Assembly approves of the ICA resolution on concurrent dissolution with Act 47 but the Act 47 rescission fails to occur for many months, if at all, and the city resists handing over any gaming money to fund the ICA’s operations. Then what?

Unless the requests from the oversight board to the General Assembly and the city are honored, and the dissolution happens quickly, the board members will have limited alternatives. They cannot be expected to pay out of their own pockets the expenses necessary to carry out the ICA’s legally mandated activities. Rather than face legal action or sanctions for failing to perform their duties, the board might well decide to resign en masse. And they would be justified in doing so. The General Assembly and the governor need to determine whether the ICA is to go or stay and find the money to fund it until it is dissolved. If it is to go, the General Assembly should set a date certain within the next couple of months for the ICA to be dissolved.

Notes on the state of things

Airline officials can say the darnedest things. Take, for instance, Brian Davis.

It was back in June 2015, as vice president for marketing at Allegiant Air, that he was raising a stink over proposed subsidies for Elite Airways at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport in Mesa, Ariz.

“It’s completely inappropriate,” Davis told The Arizona Republic. “We don’t mind competition … what we do mind is subsidized competition.”

Fast-forward to this month.

Allegiant announced that this spring it will begin seasonal service from Pittsburgh International Airport to Charleston, S.C., and year-round service to Sarasota-Bradenton, Fla.

And the service will be subsidized with a “small marketing incentive,” the full amount of which has not been set, said a spokesman for the Allegheny County Airport Authority.

So much for “completely inappropriate … subsidized competition,” eh?

Curiously, just this week the very same Elite Airways that was the subject of Allegiant’s ire in Arizona pulled out of a plan announced late last year — with great fanfare – to begin non-stop service to the same Sarasota-Bradenton airport, near the home to the Pittsburgh Pirates’ spring training camp.

The authority was to pay Elite a $30,000 “marketing” subsidy. Elite’s cancellation came a day after Allegiant announced its subsidized flights.

Things that make you go “Hmmmm … .”

Turns out there was more to the compensation package of new Port Authority CEO Katharine Eagan Kelleman than first revealed.

As the Post-Gazette reported this week, when Kelleman was hired, her compensation package was announced as being a $230,000 salary, the same defined benefit pension package as other authority nonunion employees and a 3 percent match for a 401(k) savings plan.

But, as the P-G reports, a month after the Nov. 8 announcement of her hiring, the Port Authority board “approved an additional contribution of 15 percent of her salary every year to her 401(k), which was agreed to when she was hired and amounts to $34,500 this year.”

That’s a darn generous package. The public should expect big things from her.

Kelleman faces a variety of challenges at the Port Authority. While she says she considers it to be “one of America’s bedrock transit systems,” its “underlying cost problems have yet to be addressed in a substantial way,” Allegheny Institute researchers reminded when Kelleman was hired.

If Pittsburghers thought the sour experience of majority taxpayer funding for a baseball field, a football stadium and a hockey arena taught government-types elsewhere an experience not to be emulated, think again.

The Washington Times has the shocking details of the drubbing Nevada taxpayers and the general public will experience for the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders’ new $1.9 billion football stadium in Las Vegas:

“The public’s $750 million contribution – financed through tax-exempt bonds – is the largest public subsidy ever granted for a U.S. stadium. It will be used in combination with a $500 million contribution from the Raiders and an additional $600 million loan from Bank of America.

“The Raiders’ contribution, however, will be about $50 million from the team itself. About $200 million of its portion will be financed with a loan from the NFL and the remaining $250 million will be generated from the sale of personal seat licenses. …

“Clark County, where Las Vegas is located, will raise the funds to pay those bonds by raising the hotel tax on the famous strip by nearly 1 percent.”

But that’s not all.

The Times further reports the deal allows the Raiders “to break the lease and look for another home if Nevada attempts to impose new taxes over the next three decades” specifically “on the team, stadium, fans or players,” including visiting teams and fans.

The Raiders, however, “will collect revenue of the sale of (luxury) suites, tickets, stadium naming rights and local television broadcasts,” the newspaper reminds, estimated to be about $130 million in the first year of operation.

Quoting Neil deMause, a longtime critic of publicly funded sports complexes, “This is adding insult to injury. It’s bad enough that Nevada is handing over $700 million in cash, now (it has) made things even worse by agreeing to a deal that makes sure Nevada taxpayers never see a penny from the stadium.”

Which makes the economic contribution of this football stadium redefine, downward, the term de minimis – which long has described the economic benefits of publicly subsidized homes for the barons of sport.

Colin McNickle is a senior fellow and media specialist at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).

Transition from State to Local Controlled School Board Begins in Philly

This week a nominating panel will convene to begin a month long process that will end with a list of 27 names that will be given to the Mayor of Philadelphia for a chance at a seat on the reformed nine member school board of directors.  The school board will assume responsibility for the Philadelphia School District, a responsibility handled for most of the past two decades by the School Reform Commission.

There are limitations on who can be appointed to the board (Philadelphia will not have an elected board as all other school districts in the state do).  City and school district employees cannot be candidates, nor can those holding specific elected offices.

At one time Pittsburgh had an appointed school board and there was mention of returning to one fifteen years ago but no change has occurred in its arrangement.

Secrets & subsidies

Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald remains adamant:

He will not, nor will other local “leaders,” release details of the region’s bid for Amazon’s second headquarters.

“The object is to be successful,” the ACE told the Post-Gazette last week. “Giving out our information to all the other cities, I think, would put us at a competitive disadvantage.”

Which continues to be a nonsensical thing to say, considering the bid deadline passed long ago. The object should be transparency.

Some other jurisdictions that put in bids for what Amazon calls “HQ2” have made public their bids, some heavily redacted. But enough information has been released to suggest very deep and long dives into taxpayer pockets.

Local governments here have denied media requests for what clearly is public information. That suggests not necessarily attempts to protect “proprietary” information but to blunt public outrage. Appeals now are before the state Office of Open Records.

The latest rationale for not letting the public see what its public officials propose they pay for is that there are nondisclosure agreements with private property owners whose sites are part of the proposal.

But that’s specious as well.

A public entity is pledging public money – easily millions and, perhaps, hundreds of millions of dollars. And the public does not have a right to see the potential deal?

That’s ludicrous. Transparency in government should be the baseline, not an option. Open government is must.

It once was written that time and chance reveal all secrets. But when it comes to your government pledging your money to a private company, transparency should not be left to chance.

The time is long past for Allegheny and Pittsburgh officials to make public the Amazon bid – down to the last cent. The public’s business is not governments’ secret to keep.

Here’s an interesting tale:

As the Trib reported it, Allegiant Air will begin seasonal flights from Pittsburgh International Airport to Charleston, S.C., in April. At the same time, year-round service will begin to Sarasota, Fla.

And as has become the per usual, the public appears to be paying a premium (above and beyond ticket purchases, that is) for the Allegheny County Airport Authority’s version of “progress.”

An authority spokesman says a “small marketing incentive” is being paid to Allegiant. The amount? Shhhhhhhh! Secret!

Now, the really interesting part is that, at the same time, Allegiant is adding flights to Lehigh Valley International Airport in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

But it didn’t cost the local airport authority there a thing. At least that’s the information Tom Shortell has. He’s a reporter at The Morning Call in Allentown. We traded a few emails last week.

As far as any subsidy for Allegiant goes, “Our (airport) authority hasn’t authorized anything along those lines,” Shortell told me. “They would be hard-pressed to offer something like that right now – they’re only a year removed from crushing debt and are still ramping up long-deferred repairs and hires.”

So, again, why is the Allegheny County Airport Authority subsidizing service when others aren’t?

Colin McNickle is a senior fellow and media specialist at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).

 

 

Weekend essay: Wintry renewal

“The nakedness and asperity of the wintry world always fill the beholder with pensive and profound astonishment,” wrote 18th-century English essayist Samuel Johnson.

Indeed, there is a roughness and a harshness to this stripped-bare season. The winds and the cold that bite with their teeth and lash with their tail can bruise and batter our souls.

It is as if life itself has been snatched from us. And despite knowing better, we question whether there will be, can be, another spring.

But upon closer examination — aided perhaps by a cup of sweet English tea that rekindles the soul — our pensiveness wanes; our astonishment no longer invites the pejorative. For there’s plenty of life, if not grandeur, to be found in the seasonal slumber.

Is there anything more beautiful than the contrast of the red cardinal against the bark of an ice-slathered silver maple? Why, yes, there is: Even more stark in its beauty is the counterpose of the elusive red fox and its kits, scampering back to their den, against the fresh comforter of snow.

And back inside? William Cowper, one of Mr. Johnson’s contemporaries, crowned winter as “the king of intimate delights.”

“Fireside enjoyments, home-born happiness,

“And all the comforts that the lowly roof

“Of undisturb’d retirement, and the hours

“Of long uninterrupted evening know.”

Winter need not be the season of our discontent. It is, as we must attest, the season of our renewal.

Colin McNickle is a senior fellow and media specialist at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org).

 

Two Reassessments Are Playing Out Quite Differently

There is an ongoing reassessment of property values in Monroe County where one was last completed in 1989.  That process began when the County Commissioners voted in June of 2016 to move forward with a revaluation and give the task to a contractor to handle the job of reassessing the more than 100,000 parcels in the County.  In the spring the process was in the data collection phase.  In 2016 the County collected $46 million in real estate taxes at a millage rate of 21.25 mills.  .

There is an ongoing court case over a possible reassessment in Beaver County where just before the start of the new year the Court of Common Pleas issued an order directing the County to carry out a reassessment of values, the first since 1982.  This past week the County government made an appeal to that Court (it did not appeal the decision to Commonwealth Court) over the testimony submitted by plaintiffs in the case and on the timeline of executing a contract with a firm to begin the reassessment process.  The County collected $48 million in real estate taxes at a millage rate of 22.2 mills in 2016.

This is not to imply that there is a wholesale geographic difference in how reassessments move forward.  There have been court ordered reassessments out east as well as west, and County government officials have opted to take action to update values without court intervention in all parts of the state as well.  These two examples, however, illustrate two very different approaches if values are updated in coming years: 2019 (which is when Monroe County’s are expected to go into effect) and 2020 (when Beaver County’s would, based on the Common Pleas Court order at present).  By that time, does anyone expect that the General Assembly will pass a law calling for a regular reassessment cycle for counties?

The government subsidy game

After reading an Allegheny Institute commentary (at pennlive.com) on the dichotomy that is this nation’s notable manufacturing gains but Pennsylvania’s continuing manufacturing losses, an engaged commentator noted:

“(I)t would be nice if you could explain in specific terms what other ways may be used to make Pennsylvania more competitive to draw manufacturing into the state.”

From think tank president Jake Haulk:

“I don’t believe Pennsylvania should put money into attracting any business. Lower the corporate tax rate, enact right to work (and) reduce the regulations that inhibit manufacturing startups or expansion.

“Adopt a business-friendly environment for all types of business, not just manufacturing,” the Ph.D. economist says

And that said, Haulk adds “a new mind-set by Democrats will be needed” as well as “more backbone in Republicans.”

That is, the same-old, same-old economic policies of the past simply don’t work; it is way past time for the failure to be called out, with the facts, not replicated ad infinitum.

Another commentator also believes Pennsylvania should not put resources into attracting manufacturing jobs. But he employs a different rationale:

“Manufacturing is returning to the U.S. from offshore because of robotics. More stuff is being made by machines, so if you eliminate the labor costs from the equation, the next largest expense is logistics.

“Thus, you move production closer to the point of sale, which is what is happening. Any job growth is for the people who build and program the robotics, or those responsible for the logistics stream.”

The writer also sees “the biggest impediment” to economic growth in the commonwealth as being “systemic corruption” in state government:

“Market forces aren’t allowed to move freely because both business and labor are greasing the wheels with campaign contributions, and government keeps pouring money into businesses via grants and tax abatements that could not survive otherwise.”

Whether mutually exclusive or not, the courts have ruled that the former is free speech. And whether the quid pro quo alleged is perceived or actual long has been elusive to prove.

But what is easily proved is the fallacy of government attempting to pick economic winners and typically losing, with public money. And in a realm in which it has no business doing business – other than, that is, as Haulk reminds, to keep the tax and regulatory burdens as low as possible for all so as to facilitate real economic growth.

Consider this passage from “Man, Economy and State” by late, great economist Murray Rothbard:

“(T)he more government intervenes and subsidizes, the more caste conflict will be created in society, for individuals and groups will benefit only at one another’s expense.

“The more widespread the tax-and-subsidy process, the more people will be induced to abandon production and join the army of those who live coercively off production.

“Production and living standards will be progressively lowered as energy is diverted from production to politics and as government saddles a dwindling base of production with a growing and more-top-heavy burden of the State-privileged.

“This process will be all the more accelerated because those who succeed in any activity will invariably tend to be those who are best at performing it.

“Those who particularly flourish on the free market, therefore, will be those most adept at production and at serving their fellow men; those who succeed in the political struggle for subsidies, on the other hand, will be those most adept at wielding coercion or at winning favors from wielders of coercion.

“Generally, different people will be in the different categories of the successful, in accordance with the universal specialization of skills. Furthermore, for those who are skilled at both, the tax-and-subsidy system will encourage and promote their predatory skills and penalize their productive ones.”

Sadly illuminating, is it not? That so many of our public officials refuse to engage the light, and continue to practice such dark economics, is anathema to sound public policy.

Colin McNickle is a senior fellow and media specialist at the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy (cmcnickle@alleghenyinstitute.org)

Homestead Exclusion Remodel Faces Major Hurdles

Summary: A ballot question asking Pennsylvania voters to alter the existing constitutional language on the homestead exclusion was approved in November 2017. The new provision will allow the General Assembly to write legislation allowing local taxing authorities (counties, municipalities, and school districts) to have homestead exclusions of up to 100 percent of the assessed value of each homestead, rather than the current maximum of 50 percent of the median assessed value. Many problems face implementing the amendment provisions and will make writing enabling legislation very tedious and difficult.

 

For many years there have been political efforts to get substantial property tax relief for homeowners approved by the Legislature. A recently approved constitutional amendment is aimed at permitting the Legislature to draft legislation that will offer expanded relief. Currently, the homestead exclusion, enabled by a constitutional amendment question in 1997 and legislation to carry out that amendment (Act 50 of 1998), provides for a uniform, flat-dollar deduction from the assessed value of primary owner-occupied dwellings. The exclusion amount is limited to 50 percent of the median assessed value of owner-occupied homes in the taxing body’s jurisdiction.

As an example of how the current law works, a $10,000 homestead exclusion (say 10 percent of the median home assessed value) would lower the taxable value of a home assessed at $500,000 and a $250,000 home by the same $10,000 before millage rates are applied. Local taxing bodies under current law are permitted, but not mandated, to enact homestead exclusions. And if they adopt an exclusion they are not allowed to increase property tax millage rates to fund the revenue shortfall the exclusion would create. With three separate local taxing entities it is possible for a homestead to be taxed on three separate assessed values depending on the amount each taxing body adopts as its exclusion.

The November ballot question passed with 54 percent of the 1.7 million votes cast, and in all but 11 of the state’s 67 counties. Strong approval of the question (70% or greater) came in counties in eastern Pennsylvania. Curiously, two of the counties where the question failed were Philadelphia and Allegheny, which are the only places where homestead exclusions for county or municipal taxes are currently in place. Allegheny County offers an exclusion for county taxes, the City of Pittsburgh for city taxes, and Philadelphia (a combined city-county) for its municipal taxes.

 

Current Homestead Exclusions in Allegheny County

It should be noted that Act 50 permitted school districts to shift to higher earned income taxes or personal income taxes in order to first eliminate nuisance taxes and then fund homestead exclusions but it did not itemize alternative sources of taxation for counties or municipalities to pay for homestead exclusions. However, a 2007 study found that only four school districts in Pennsylvania had gone through with such a shift.

A more significant change came when the General Assembly met in a special session in 2006 and produced Act 1. Taxes on slot machines are pooled in the Property Tax Relief Fund and then returned to all 500 school districts on a formula basis to pay for homestead exclusions for school taxes (in Philadelphia the money reduces the wage tax). In all there is roughly $619 million available to be divided among 2.9 million approved homesteads, an average of $182 in savings statewide on school property taxes based on 2017-18 data on estimated relief from the Department of Education. The allotment received by districts is used to calculate an exclusion that is applied equally to all homesteads regardless of assessed value. Like Act 50, Act 1 permitted voters in school districts to consider higher income based taxes to fund homestead exclusions above what was provided by slot machine revenues. Only 13 districts collected such taxes as of last year.

Thus, as of the end of 2017 homestead exclusions are offered via Act 50 and Act 1 but, outside of the gaming money funding exclusions for school taxes, there has been minimal use of existing exclusion provisions or to shift to income based taxes.

There are obstacles to moving forward with the language approved by the voters in November. The underlying purpose of the new and potentially far more generous homestead exclusion as contained in the constitutional amendment is to allow taxing bodies to make major reductions in homeowner tax burdens or possibly eliminate them altogether. Of course, absent dollar-for- dollar cuts in spending, that means the loss of tax revenue from homestead exclusions must be made up by shifting the burden to other taxes and/or other taxpayers. For certain, property owners other than homesteads would see their share of paying for government increase whether the millage rates are raised or not. In the extreme case wherein the homestead exclusion is 100 percent of the home’s value, any future millage rates hikes would fall totally on other properties.

Given the pressure most school districts are under to find more revenue because of pension liabilities and rising compensation and other costs, it seems improbable that cutting expenditures is an option for most districts any time soon. Thus, any loss of revenue from homestead exclusions would be made up by shifting taxes to other sources, primarily residents’ income. In that event, renters and business owners of property would incur added tax liability with no offsetting property tax reduction.

The second consideration is the almost total absence in interest by schools, municipalities and counties in using the current homestead exclusion. Nor has there been much interest by school districts or the residents of districts in availing themselves of the Act 1 provisions to shift property taxes to income, even though that presumably would be an option of choice in communities with a high percentage of older residents.
It is easy to understand the wishes of homeowners to want relief from property taxes. On the other hand, schools, municipalities and counties need revenue to provide services. Efforts to shift a large share of the burden to other revenue sources must of necessity create political opposition from those for whom the tax burden would be increased. The questions of fairness and detriment to the business community and potentially employment of tax shifting must be a consideration by elected officials when they contemplate burden shifting.

Then there are the issues raised by the proposed new exclusion system. Currently, the exclusion cannot exceed 50 percent of the median assessed value and is a uniform flat dollar amount which means all homeowners get the same dollar reduction in their tax bills. Under the system just made by the constitutional amendment, if acted on by the Legislature, could give homeowners an equal percentage reduction in taxes. Thus, 20 percent exclusion by a school district with a tax rate of 20 mills would reduce the taxes on a $500,000 home by $2,000 while the tax cut for a $150,000 home would be $600. Would most property owners be happy with this outcome? Indeed, is the equal dollar exclusion currently permitted deemed fair or equitable by owners of high-value homes? To date there has not been much vocal opposition.

Second, would counties or municipalities using the current system be required to eliminate their exclusion and come up with another one acceptable under the terms of the constitutional amendment? Indeed, would this amendment obviate the current homestead exclusion law altogether or just make it optional for local taxing entities as the case is currently?

Third, how does this amendment, if adopted by the Legislature, affect the long-running efforts to eliminate school property taxes for all types of property? If an appreciable number of school districts were to adopt a significant exclusion and shift taxes to income or other permitted taxes, the elimination of school taxes statewide would become even more cumbersome than it is already for the reasons we have outlined at length in earlier Policy Briefs.

Fourth, in light of the outdated and likely extraordinarily unfair assessed values in many counties, would exclusions based on percentage of assessments simply exacerbate the taxation unfairness?

In sum, all these and doubtless many more hurdles to passage of legislation to adopt the provisions in the constitutional amendment point to a very long, contentious and arduous road ahead.

In an upcoming Policy Brief we will examine some of the numbers behind homestead property value and what would be required as replacement revenue to pay for exclusions of 100 percent.

Oversight Board Votes to Disband

By a 3-1 vote the board of the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (oversight board) opted to recommend that the General Assembly let the entity dissolve when/if the Secretary of Community and Economic Development lifts distressed status under Act 47.

As we wrote recently, the ICA did not receive an appropriation for Fiscal Year 2017-18 and DCED held a hearing on terminating the City’s distressed status just before Christmas.  Under Act 99 of 2016 the ICA is supposed to be around to the later of the dissolution of Act 47 in Pittsburgh or June 30, 2019.  If the Assembly carries out the wishes of the board it would presumably take an amendment to that legislation.