South Pittsburgh Reporter - Serving South Pittsburgh Since 1939

By Al Lowe
Contributing Writer 

Mount gets preview of library's plans to have tax money redirected


Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh wants a referendum on the November ballot regarding allocating a quarter of a mill received in taxes toward the library system.

Mary Monaghan, assistant director of neighborhood libraries, and Pat Millham of the Carey Group, came to the May membership and community forum meeting of the Mount Washington Community Development Corporation.

Ms. Monaghan explained at the session's start they planned not to speak about individual plans for Mount Washington branch but about funding for all the local branches.

They alluded to the crisis in 2009 when the library board wanted to close branches due to lack of funding. Following the resolution of the immediate problem, a public/private task force was formed to seek more sustainable funding for the Pittsburgh branches.

Other ideas are still being investigated, but the task force also decided to get the necessary petition signatures to put the millage issue on the ballot.

"Needed are 3,000 signatures. We have a goal of getting 9,000 to avoid any challenges," Mr. Millham said.

He said volunteers easily found supporters when they circulated the petitions on Election Day.

The campaign to increase millage will be launched in June with a press conference. In July volunteers will host house parties with wine and cheese to invite support. From early August to November there will be door-to-door and phone campaigns asking probable voters to support the proposal.

"Children, if you really reach out to them, can do a lot," one attendee said, suggesting volunteers visit the schools.

Mr. Millham said the children will have an active presence at the press conference and at rallies and will be making banners in favor of the quarter of a mill increase. He estimates the average taxpayer would pay $25 more a year.

Other ideas being investigated by the task force include: increasing Regional Asset District (RAD funding), expanding endowments, working closely with corporations and foundations and obtaining tax incentives.

A couple of attendees expressed dismay RAD is funding other organizations in addition to the libraries, thus leaving less money for them. "Some political people say to RAD ‘take care of these people' and another organization goes on the list," one man said.

One lady mentioned there are people who can't really afford additional millage.

In other business, former board member and officer Frank Valenta objected to the suggested changes in MWCDC by-laws coming up for a vote for approval in the June election.

One change he opposes has the board of directors electing the MWCDC officers at the first board meeting held after the

October election meeting. Formerly the membership elect ed the officers; after the changes, members may vote in October only to retain or add new members to the board.

He also objected to officially changing the name of the monthly membership-community forum meetings to "community forum meetings.'

Board president J.T. Smith, who did not attend that night, said later the name change was designed to avoid confusion, so people didn't think those meetings were restricted to members only. "We are trying to be as open to the public as possible," he said.

Mr. Valenta and others have formed the Committee in Support of the Organization's Current By-laws and asked the MWCDC to mail to its membership his committee's position on the issues. He argued the MWCDC already mailed out its recommended by-law changes to members.

Jon Lusin, MWCDC vice president who chaired the meeting, said the decision would be up to Executive Director Chris Beichner, who was also unable to attend the meeting that night.

The Wild Art-Wild Trails event will be held 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 5 at 515 Norton Street. Participants will have opportunities to: help artists turn trash into art, explore trails and use a climbing wall and geocaching.

Community Day in Grandview Park will be held from noon to 4 p.m. June 25 with arts and crafts, food, music, cars and more. Vendors are needed.

According to Zone 3 crime statistics the Mount in April had: seven burglaries, nine acts of criminal mischief, three DUI arrests, 12 simple assaults and five thefts from businesses.


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