Essential Pittsburgh
11:23 am
Mon May 20, 2013

City Council News With Noah

WESA reporter covers Pittsburgh City Council and County Council
WESA reporter covers Pittsburgh City Council and County Council
Credit 90.5 WESA / 90.5 WESA

Legislation to change the powers of the Citizen Police Review Board is up for a final vote on Thursday.  Currently, the CPRB reviews new police policies after they are implemented, but the new legislation would alter this system resulting in the board reviewing  policies before they take effect. Sponsoring Councilman Rev. Ricky Burgess, who originally wanted to publish an abridged version of the police rule book until it was found to be against state law, says he's hoping to use the CPRB as the "eyes and ears" of the public regarding police policies.

Councilman Burgess is also introducing a property tax relief program for 2015 for a preliminary vote. The legislation would take a yearly state grant of $7.5 million and dedicate it to property tax relief for only those residents whose property values increased because of the reassessment.  In order to be eligible, the homeowners are also required to have owned their homes for ten years, or for five years if they bought the house with government or nonprofit assistance.  Councilman Burgess says the yearly state grant has been improperly used to pay off a URA loan since the grant's inception in 1994, but in 2015, the loan will finally be paid off in full. 

City Council will put a final vote to legislation that would allow the city-county Sports and Exhibition Authority to apply for a $20 million federal grant for the redevelopment of the Civic Arena property.  The grant money from the Dept. of Transportation would be used to lay a new street grid and sidewalks, along with utility lines.  The SEA has proposed an exceptionally green stormwater system; it includes "tree reservoirs" to capture rainwater flowing down from the Hill District, and separate pipes for storm and sewer water.  Ultimately the redevelopment is expected to include town houses in the Hill District end of the property, transitioning to office and retail space toward Downtown.