RAMP Opposes Lawrenceville Business Improvement District Tax
“This Business Improvement District strikes at the very core of what RAMP stands for, property rights”
Pittsburgh, PA – Letters opposing the proposed Lawrenceville Business Improvement District (BID) tax were recently sent to 350 property owners from the REALTORS® Association of Metropolitan Pittsburgh (RAMP). A group of more than 50 business and property owners in Lawrenceville are joining RAMP in opposing this BID tax. RAMP is opposing the Lawrenceville BID due to the BID’s eminent domain capabilities, a levy of another property tax, and the laws deemed approval process.
On September 4, City Councilman Patrick Dowd introduced legislation supporting the non-profit Lawrenceville Corporation’s effort to create a BID in Lawrenceville.
“This Business Improvement District strikes at the very core of what RAMP stands for, property rights,” said RAMP President Ruthanne Belus. According to the final BID legislation (Act 130), a BID can acquire land via eminent domain. “Allowing eminent domain is unacceptable to RAMP, and to the property owners who have spoken against this proposal.”
If approved in Lawrenceville, the BID would be governed by an advisory council of property and business owners. The Lawrenceville Corporation would be its fiscal conduit.
Mrs. Belus continued, “The police powers of eminent domain are reserved for authorized government entities as provided for in the law. The idea of non elected, and not even appointed, individuals taxing property is wrong; the providing of powers of eminent domain to the same individuals is worse; the concept of deemed approval, instead of voter support, is irresponsible.”
The stated purpose of the Lawrenceville BID is to sweep the sidewalks (a responsibility of each property owner and/or tenant), putting up holiday lights, and planting flowers. However, many property owners believe this tax will be a burden on businesses and ultimately lower property values.
“This is nothing more than an additional property tax,” said Lawrenceville property and business owner Jean D’Alessandro. “Property taxes in Allegheny County have already gone up substantially since last year’s property reassessments. This additional tax hurts the local real estate market, business community and property owners. As this tax increases, which it will every year, rent on businesses will increase and expenses on property owners will increase. Therefore, when expenses increase on investment property and income remains stagnant, the value of our property is lowered.”
Long time Lawrenceville property and business owner, Terry Johnson, said, “Increasing real estate taxes will lower my property value and government involvement will also ultimately lower my property value. Lawrenceville property values have increased based upon our own private development, not government interference. We all should make every effort to continue the success of our community under the stewardship of private development. Government should serve as a supportive partner, not a financial hardship.”
A business improvement district is a legal taxing body covering an area in which property owners have voted to be taxed for such services as sweeping, snow and litter removal, flower and tree maintenance, and marketing. Districts are currently in effect Downtown and in Oakland.
The Mission of the REALTORS® Association of Metropolitan Pittsburgh is to be the local voice of real estate, protect private property rights, and enhance the professional and ethical conduct of its members.