Beechview – Your Market on Broadway IGA is finally here! I am very proud of this success story. It took a great deal of cooperation and work and I thank Mayor Ravenstahl, the URA and Ron Previck and Wayne Hancock of the IGA for working with me on this project and for there is seeing this come to fruition. Working together, we were able to make big things happen for Beechview. [The Market on Broadway IGA is located at 1616 Broadway Avenue in Beechview, City of Pittsburgh.]
Property Assessment Moratorium
Last week, I announced that I will re-introduce legislation imposing a moratorium on court-ordered assessments through November 2012, or until the state acts on assessment reforms. A similar bill, passed by the state legislature in June, was vetoed by the Governor because it singled out just one county. My bill would apply to all court-ordered assessments in the Commonwealth.
People in nearly every municipality in my Senatorial district have written to me, with the same pleas we have heard from county leaders. They want the system fixed before they are burdened with huge property tax increases. A state-wide moratorium on real estate tax assessments will help these communities avoid the tremendous burden that comes with reassessment. There is work being done to protect homeowners and reform the current system by the end of the year. We must allow that work to be completed.
Just last week, the judge overseeing Allegheny County’s current reassessment was told that preliminary assessment numbers will not be ready until the end of January, with certified numbers being released in April. He is pushing to make sure that assessment numbers are released for the City of Pittsburgh and the Borough of Mt. Oliver, but other municipalities and school districts in the county will be left waiting.
Our state constitution insists upon uniformity in property assessments, yet the mandate on Allegheny County creates inequities instead. Twenty-two counties have not completed inspection of properties since at least the mid-1980s. The counties differ in their property markets and assessment systems. Furthermore, the Supreme Court has ruled as recently as 2009 that the base year system is increasingly inaccurate and at some point will become unconstitutionally non-uniform. Why are we continuing down this road?
In Allegheny County, municipalities have seen residents leave the area and move to neighboring counties which have lower real estate values and costs of living. They are driven away by the use of a base year system that may go back as far as the 1970s.
A number of entities have made recommendations over the past decade in regards to reforming the assessment system. Just last year, the Legislative Budget & Finance Committee made recommendations to enhance the current system and also provide options to the legislature for major changes to the system. The House of Representatives currently has more than one task force developing uniform standards for reassessment contracts; a self-evaluation tool for counties to determine when a reassessment is warranted; and criteria and procedures for data submission, verification, and collection.
Enacting a temporary moratorium would avoid the negative effects of reassessment that occur because there is no uniform, state-wide system and allows the General Assembly the opportunity to address the deficiencies in the current system.
7th Annual FontanaFest
This Saturday, September 24th from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. is the 7th Annual FontanaFest. Held at South Side’s Riverfront Park (bottom of 18th Street at the river), this event highlights the family-oriented activities that can be done on or near Pittsburgh’s three rivers. Join us for a FREE day of family fun with activities on the rivers, free food and drink, entertainment, door prizes, numerous booth sponsors and a variety of events. It’s Rain or Shine – but the day is looking beautiful, so please come out and enjoy!
Visit Area Attractions for Free
Did You Know…
Did you know that almost 60% of the funding allocated by the Allegheny Regional Asset District goes to library services and parks and trails? Funding is also provided to organizations that offer a wide range of cultural and recreational experiences, serving as many as 10 million county residents and visitors each year.
More than 50 arts and culture organizations in the Pittsburgh area will offer free admissions and performances over the next three weeks as part of RADical Days, an annual event sponsored by the Allegheny Regional Asset District (RAD) and its funded assets. The offerings and festivities begin this Saturday, September 24th with free admission to the Allegheny County Parks Hartwood Acres Hay Day and the Pittsburgh Opera: Rising Stars. Other deals during RADical Days include free behind the scenes access to sports and civic facilities, free admission to cultural treasures, and free music.
There are a variety of free offers available each week through Saturday, October 15th. For a list of participants and daily offers, visit the RADical Days website. Free admission is offered on a limited, first-come, first-served basis and may require advance reservations, so make sure you check the schedule for more information.
Establishing Limited Distilleries in PA
Last week, I participated in a public hearing on House Bill 242 hosted by the Senate Law and Justice Committee at the Heinz History Center in the Strip District. HB 242 proposes an amendment to the Liquor Code that establishes a “limited distillery license,” similar to what is currently provided for wineries.
License holders that operate a distillery would be able to produce up to 40,000 gallons of distilled liquor per year. The licensee could manufacture and sell bottled liquor at their sites to the PA Liquor Control Board, the public and other licensees and would be able to provide tasting samples of liquor at their sites.
The committee heard testimony from several distillers in support of this legislation, including Pennsylvania-based distillers and distillers from neighboring states that are permitted to sell product at retail. They shared that there are many positive affects this legislation would have on the industry. Allowing direct sales at distilleries encourages tourism into Pennsylvania and helps the industry (many of these distilleries are small and family-owned businesses) increase revenues thus increasing tax revenues for the Commonwealth. Breweries and wineries have the ability to sell product at their sites and the time has come for distilleries to be afforded the same opportunity.
Register to Vote
If you have not done so already, I urge you to register to vote in order to take part in the municipal election this November. October 11th is the deadline to register if you want to vote on November 8th. Voter registration applications, as well as absentee ballot applications, are available in my district offices and on my website. Applications are also available at VotesPA.com, a useful resource to help you prepare for Election Day. To be eligible to vote in Pennsylvania, you must be a citizen of the United States for at least one month before the election; a resident of Pennsylvania and the election district in which you want to register and vote for at least 30 days prior to the election; and at least 18 years old on or before Election Day.
High School Football Week 3 Wrap-Up
As I return to Harrisburg this week, my time will be spent participating in hearings and meeting with my colleagues on a variety of issues most important to my constituents. We have a lot of issues to tackle this fall and I will continue to look at these issues through a jobs “lens” and fight for policies that put people back to work.
As happens every year in the Capitol, at some point, whether it’s for five minutes in between meetings, or as colleagues pass each other in the hallway, for a brief moment, a conversation emerges about high school football. My colleagues speak with great pride about the accomplishments of the student-athletes in their districts.
No Senator is prouder of the student-athletes they represent than I am and I am always quick to jump in and boast about the many great accomplishments young people in my district are achieving. Best of luck to all the student-athletes in the 42nd district and congratulations to all the parents, teachers, coaches, and other mentors who help these young people in and out of the classroom.
- Brashear rallied from a 10-0 deficit, scoring two touchdowns in the 4th quarter, to defeat Allderdice 13-10. Tre Gaines recovered a fumble and returned it 13 yards for the deciding touchdown.
- Dorian Brown rushed for 146 yards and scored a touchdown in Baldwin’s 35-7 win over Norwin. Zack Dennardo rushed for two touchdowns and Stephone Harris rushed for 97 yards and a touchdown.
- Wayne Capers threw two touchdown passes to Zach Chapman to lead Chartiers Valley to a 43-0 win over Elizabeth Forward.
- Julian Darden scored four touchdowns and rushed for 111 yards in Montour’s 42-0 win over Ambridge. Dillon Bueschel threw touchdown passes to Devin Wilson and Aaron Reed in the win.
- Matt Buckley threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Cory Sevacko with over three minutes to play, leading Keystone Oaks to a 27-20 win over Quaker Valley. Buckley threw three touchdown passes in the game including a 91-yard pass to Ricky Rogers and a 76-yard pass to Cody Alward.
- Lenny Williams threw three touchdown passes, rushed for one, and passed for 262 yards in Sto-Rox’s 43-11 win over Neshannock. Josh Beverly rushed for a touchdown and returned a kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown.
- Brentwood defeated Bentworth 55-0, their second consecutive shutout. Josh Vickless and Ryan Shortley each rushed for two touchdowns.
- Bishop Canevin defeated Northgate 42-0 behind Kevin Mechas’ three touchdowns.
- Kevin Hart rushed for 120 yards and Luke Brumbaugh passed for 128 yards in Seton La-Salle’s 34-14 win over Washington.
- Jaquan Green passed for 284 yards and connected with Marc Wilson for four touchdowns in Langley’s 45-14 win over Homer Center.
- Cornell lost 38-36 in overtime to Western Beaver, despite scoring 24 points in the 4th quarter to tie the game. Shawn Owens threw four touchdown passes for Cornell. (From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
For anyone interested in supporting their local teams in person,
here is a schedule for Week 4:
Thursday, September 22
- Langley @ University Prep, 6pm
Friday, September 23
- Brashear @ Westinghouse, 7pm
- Keystone Oaks @ South Allegheny, 7:30pm
- Seton La-Salle @ Quaker Valley, 7:30pm
- Neshannock @ Cornell, 7pm
- Rochester @ Sto-Rox, 7pm
- Brentwood @ Avella, 7:30pm
- Fort Cherry @ Carlynton, 7:30pm
- Northgate @ Springdale, 7:30pm
- Bethel Park @ Chartiers Valley, 7pm
- Montour @ Canon-MacMillan, 7:30pm
- Thomas Jefferson @ Baldwin, 7:30pm
WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program Deadlines
Eligible families participating in the Women Infants Children (WIC) Program have until next Friday, September 30th to claim their PA Farmers Market Nutritional Program checks. There are more than 11,000 WIC participants in Allegheny County eligible to receive $20 in checks that can be redeemed at Farmers Markets for fresh fruit and vegetables. All checks must be used before they expire on November 30th, but many Farmers Markets close for the season before Thanksgiving.
WIC families should contact their WIC office or call 412-350-5801 to make arrangements to pick up their checks. For a list of Farmers Markets where they can be redeemed, visit the WIC website or the PA Department of Agriculture website. WIC is a federally funded program for pregnant or breastfeeding women, postpartum mothers and children under the age of five. For income eligibility guidelines, click here. The WIC Program also provides year-round food benefits, including infant formula, infant cereal, milk, eggs, cheese, juice, cereal, peanut butter, whole grains, baby food, and more.
Brentwood Borough used to be a village in Baldwin Township and covered about a tenth of the township. The borough was incorporated by decree of the Quarter Sessions Court of Allegheny County, taking effect in January of 1916. Citizens of the village pursued secession so Brentwood could further provide and localize safety, security and other services.
Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana