Pittsburgh controller says the city must collect the parks tax but needs to add more internal controls before it does

As the Pittsburgh City Council is nearing a vote on whether to start collecting a parks tax that voters approved by referendum last year, City Controller Michael Lamb said the city has no choice but to start collecting the tax. "At this point, I think council has got to move forward with this and I think they are legally required to move forward with this," Lamb said. "I don't think there is too much wiggle room in getting out of it given the wording of the referendum." PublicSource reported last month that at least two city councilors preferred not to collect the tax at all. But Lamb said at a press conference Thursday that his understanding is that the council will vote to start collecting the tax in 2021.

Baxter Parklet.

Pittsburgh’s parks tax that prioritized equity likely won’t be collected this year, despite equity protests and a rise in park use

The political context of the parks tax has changed considerably since March. The original debate over the tax centered around what it meant to spend the money equitably. Since then, Black Lives Matter protests across Pittsburgh have put the issue of equity front-and-center, drawing attention — and often support —  from council.

Four environmental issues in the Pittsburgh region to keep your eyes on in the age of COVID-19

COVID-19 cost jobs, closed businesses and limited travel. But the economic ruin has also led to record low levels of pollution and huge reductions in climate change emissions globally.

Some of the changes, such as remote work, could have lasting benefits for the environment, even after the economy restarts. Other changes, such as a decrease in the use of mass transportation, could make environmental problems worse.