The Fight to Establish the Allegheny County Children’s Fund Continues as it Moves to the November Ballot after Receiving 63,499 Signatures from across All 130 Municipalities
Over the summer, a coalition of ten Allegheny County organizations came together and has worked endlessly to introduce a voter referendum in the November election with the intent of funneling resources towards addressing early learning, after school programming, and good nutrition for kids across the county. With the slogan “Our Kids. Our Commitment,” the coalition launched the concept of creating approximately an $18 million Allegheny County Children’s Fund, funded by a .25 millage increase to homeowners, through paying an additional $25 annually on each $100,000 of assessed property value. In Allegheny County, the average median home price is around $137,000 meaning that on average, homeowners would pay around $30 per year toward the Allegheny County Children’s Fund. Want to estimate how much your annual commitment would be as a homeowner, if this ballot initiative passes? Check out this Funding Calculator.
Living in a commonwealth state, Pennsylvania residents living outside of the only first class city/county, Philadelphia, are restricted to using the voter referendum process for only funding issues they care about through passing a property tax increase via the election ballot. Residents living in Allegheny County seeking to use a sales tax or other tax mechanism would then require state-level legislation to be passed and this is neither immediate nor a guaranteed, locally controlled process.
At first glance, many people will quickly turn away from the idea of having to spend more money on paying local, state, and/or federal taxes. However, with a little additional research and digging, it becomes apparent that there is a definite need for allocating funds toward kids programming, particularly for early learning programs and nutritious meals since neither receive dedicated funding. On average, Allegheny County currently allocates $8 million of funding towards after school programs, but according to an Urban Institute report titled “Poverty and Income Insecurity in the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Area”, there were 41,697 kids under the age of 18 living in poverty in Allegheny County as of 2012 . Suddenly, $8 million seems massively insufficient to serve all the kids in need across the county.
So what are other cities doing to address gaps and funding deficiencies around kids programming and what outcomes have they experienced after introducing these funds? To provide some additional context and make the case for why establishing the children’s fund in Allegheny County is a positive idea, here are some case studies to consider ahead of the November election:
1) City of San Antonio, Texas – PRE-K 4 San Antonio
2) Pinellas County, FL – Juvenile Welfare Board
Sources:: https://pittsburghfoundation.org/sites/default/files/2016-09/Poverty%20and%20Income%20Insecurity%20In%20Pgh%20Metro%205-18-16_0.pdf : https://ourkidsourcommitment.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/OKOC-FAQs-6.29.18.pdf : https://www.sanantonio.gov/Pre-K-4-San-Antonio : https://www.jwbpinellas.org/ : https://www.stlouisco.com/csf/Documents : https://ourkidsourcommitment.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/OKOC-FAQs-6.29.18.pdf