In regard to a recent letter mailed to South Side residents by a Mr. Murrer:
I commend his diligence in forwarding a recent and important article by The South Pittsburgh Reporter (South Siders have questions about improvement district, Oct. 18, 2011). The article explains a recent movement to create a Neighborhood Improvement District in the South Side Flats. I commend him but I am confused by his “assessment” of charges, fees or “tax” as some call it.
The proposed fees were correctly reported in The South Pittsburgh Reporter article. A subsequent Reporter article also correctly reported the proposed fees were reduced for owner-occupied residents after community feedback. The fees were discussed at two well attended open meetings on Oct. 12 and 24.
Fees would be based on present assessment numbers and not on future county reassessments or the sale price of the building. The numbers proposed by Mr. Murrer ($486 per resident/year) do not represent the nine member volunteer steering committee's proposed median $16/month ($40 cap) or $189/year ($480 cap) fee for owner occupied residential properties.
I serve on the NID Steering Committee. As business and home owners in this community, we also have limited resources, must also pay these fees, and believe they are the best way to change our community for the better.
Why do we need an Improvement District? In the last two years, South Side's tone has changed. You can blame it on the bars, the students. You can blame it on other neighborhoods that have cleaned up their communities and pushed their problems onto our doorsteps.
Regardless of fault, there is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. We are willing to work together towards a solution that benefits all of South Side.
In 1995 I bought my first property in South Side. I now own seven, both commercial and residential. Over the years some of my properties have tripled in value. No one wants the property values to fall nor do I want the community to go down. I don't want the problems to get worse before an organization like this is formed. It needs to be formed now! I want values to hold, and streets to be safe. Some people say “let the city pay this,” well the city is in Act 47 and has very limited resources.
In regards to Mr. Murrer's “boycott” of the Improvement District's supportive businesses, it's ironic! Look at the list. It's a list of some of the most innovative and best run businesses in South Side. These are smart people running these businesses and they all support the Neighborhood Improvement District, and you should too! Don't be pennywise and dollar foolish! It's in your interest.
(Mr. Kramer is the owner of The Beehive Coffeehouse, Lava Lounge, Tiki Lounge and The Double Wide Grill.)