PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) – Local advocacy groups kicked off their campaign for an Allegheny County Children’s Fund Wednesday.
The “Our kids. Our commitment.” initiative aims to add a referendum to the November general election ballot for a quarter-mill property tax increase to help bridge funding gaps.
The $25 increase on each $100,000 of assessed value would average out to less than $30 per year for each homeowner in Allegheny County.
Lindsay Cashman, advocacy and public policy coordinator for PUMP, told the KDKA Radio Afternoon News Wednesday a small increase adds up to $18 to $19 million to additionally fund early learning, afterschool programs and nutritious meals throughout the county.
“We’re looking to fill the funding gaps that exist for our kids and our region to really just make a huge change in the way that we prioritize our children and the future of the region to make us a continuously competitive place where everybody has the opportunity to thrive,” Cashman said.
Cashman adds that one in six kids in Allegheny County – about 42,000 – don’t have enough meals and many of the programs the Fund would supplement see little to no local dollars.
In order to qualify the referendum for the Nov. 6 ballot, the coalition must collect over 40,000 signatures between June 19 and Aug. 7.
The referendum would allow a vote on an amendment to the Home Rule Charter through a simple majority of “yes” votes. If voted into effect, the Office of the Allegheny County Children’s Fund would be established.
“We would have a citizen’s advisory commission that actually helps to guide that office in making the correct decisions on where these resources are actually expended,” Cashman said.
The proposed charter amendment prohibits the money from the Children’s Fund to be used for any other purpose.
The Allegheny County Children’s Fund steering committee includes Allies for Children, Allegheny Partners for Out of School Time (APOST), the Human Services Center Corporation, The Mentoring Partnership, Pressley Ridge, PUMP, Trying Together, United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, the YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh, Higher Achievement, along with numerous community-based partners.
Learn more or sign the petition at ourkidsourcommitment.org.