The “Our kids. Our commitment. Allegheny County Children’s Fund Initiative” translates to a $33.60 annual increase for a typical homeowner, or $25 per each $100,000 in assessed property. The revenue would pay for “early childhood learning, after school programs, and nutritious meals,” according to the campaign website.
It’s hard to argue with efforts to improve the lives of children in the county. But there appears to be a number of questions about how the initiative was organized, how the fund will be administered and whether those who have funded the campaign (which, to date, includes $171,398 spent on ads) stand to benefit from it.
Questions have also been raised about how the initiative would intersect with school districts and social service agencies already providing those services in the county.
The fund has some clear support. Countywide, 63,499 Allegheny County residents signed a petition to get the referendum on the ballot and a list of 35 organizations stand in support of the initiative. Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto has been voicing his support, while County Executive Rich Fitzgerald has taken a lukewarm stance — in favor of the idea of a children’s fund but not a tax.
Three prominent organizations have released statements opposing the initiative, and many individuals are participating in vigorous online debates.
Here’s what we could find out to help you make an informed decision.
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