U.S. Steel’s Lower Taxes Causing Budget Headaches

U.S. Steel

U.S. Steel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A succession of successful tax appeals by U.S. Steel earlier this year, resulting in the assessed value of some of its major properties in Allegheny County plummeting by millions of dollars, has put big dents in municipal and school budgets.

The drop in real estate tax revenue has prompted three school districts — Woodland Hills, Clairton and West Mifflin — to file court challenges to the appeals granted to U.S. Steel by the Allegheny County Board of Property Assessment, Appeals and Review, and is pushing Braddock to consider an earned income tax increase.

Ira Weiss, solicitor for the Clairton City School District, called U.S. Steel’s new assessments, which resulted in the value of its coke plant in Clairton dropping from nearly $10.6 million in 2012 to just above $2 million this year, “laughable.”

“We believe the approach of [U.S. Steel] in these appeals with these communities where they’ve been longtime partners is deplorable, really,” Mr. Weiss said. “It was devastating. … [Clairton's] a small school district in a small town and no local government can sustain this kind of hit from an ongoing concern.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/east/2013/11/30/U-S-Steel-s-lower-taxes-causing-budget-headaches/stories/201311300091#ixzz2m9CxWD00

Small-Business Owners Trying To Do Part In Revitalizing Clairton

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United ...

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For the past three years, Wandra Sparks has been walking in and out of an old Italian club along Waddell Avenue in downtown Clairton.

She watches as her husband Gus Sparks installs new plumbing and electrical systems or paints warm colors on expansive walls and a cathedral ceiling, and what seemed to be piecemeal improvements in a never-ending struggle now are part of a vision that others can see.

The Sparkses transformed a club that sat vacant for at least a decade into the Ribbon Room.

“It’s a mixture of old and new furnishings,” Wandra Sparks said. “It’s cozy and quaint. There’s such a warm feeling that you don’t even know you’re in a banquet hall.”

Read more: http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/yourmckeesport/yourmckeesportmore/4983262-74/clairton-businesses-business#ixzz2jPfS5b5I
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Clairton’s Winning Streak Snapped At 66 By Monessen

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United ...

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United States Public School Districts (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Editor’s note:  It had to happen eventually. Congrats to Clairton High for their record-setting run.

The longest active winning streak in American high school football was snapped at 66 games Friday night in Clairton’s 42-24 home loss to Monessen.

Clairton had not lost since Sept. 4, 2009.  Its winning streak ended tied for the 10th-longest in American history.

The Clairton Bears have won the Pennsylvania Class A championship every year since 2009 but this year’s team was hit hard by graduation.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/sports/high-school-football/clairtons-winning-streak-snapped-at-66-by-monessen-704199/#ixzz2fXx4LWc4

U.S. Steel Seeks More Time To Cut Clairton Emissions

POLLUTANTS HANG IN THE AIR ALONG THE MONONGAHE...

POLLUTANTS HANG IN THE AIR ALONG THE MONONGAHELA RIVER AT CLAIRTON, PENNSYLVANIA, 20 MILES SOUTH OF PITTSBURGH. THE… – NARA – 557219 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

More than six months after firing up a new battery of coke ovens designed to reduce emissions from one of the region’s most common sources of air quality complaints, U.S. Steel is still trying to bring the new equipment at its Clairton plant into compliance with county emissions requirements.

The Pittsburgh steel producer has asked the Allegheny County Health Department to give the company more time to comply with those standards.

“They have asked to extend the shakedown period,” said Jim Thompson, manager of the department’s air quality program.  “As far as the plant itself, emissions are way down from where they were five years ago.”

The new battery cost $500 million and was designed to enable the plant, a perennial source of air quality complaints, to significantly reduce emissions and meet certain air quality standards months earlier than government officials targeted.  When U.S. Steel held a ceremony at the new battery in January, United Steelworkers union president Leo Gerard hailed it as “the most environmentally sound, emission-reducing coke plant probably anywhere in the world.”

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/region/us-steel-seeks-more-time-to-cut-clairton-emissions-692184/#ixzz2Wi8rPcF4

PNC Bank To Close 10 Branches In Pittsburgh Region

PNC Bank will close 10 more branches in the region within the next 90 days as part of an effort to cut costs and focus on serving customers who increasingly are banking online and via smartphones.

The closures, which include the last remaining bank branch in the city of Clairton, come on top of four other branches shuttered earlier in the year.

Spokeswoman Marcey Zwiebel declined to say how many more branches in the region might be closed this year, saying decisions beyond 90 days may not be final.

Pittsburgh‘s biggest bank has said it planned to close about 200 branches this year across its footprint in 19 states and Washington, D.C., which is about 7 percent of its network of roughly 2,900 offices.  The bank closed 65 branches last year.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/business/news/pnc-bank-to-close-10-branches-in-region-687669/#ixzz2TQEP42Sq

U.S. Steel Touts Coke Plant Project As Good For Jobs, Air

UNITED STATES STEEL CORPORATION COKE PLANT IN ...

UNITED STATES STEEL CORPORATION COKE PLANT IN A VALLEY SURROUNDED BY HOMES AT CLAIRTON, PENNSYLVANIA. LOCATED 20… – NARA – 557213 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

U.S. Steel today formally commissioned a new battery of ovens at its Clairton coke plant, a $500 million project the company said will preserve steelmaking jobs in the Mon Valley and improve the region’s air quality.

The project is a scaled back version of the $1 billion proposal the Pittsburgh steelmaker announced in late 2007, before the global recession decimated steel demand and caused the industry to retrench.

President and CEO John P. Surma said even after the scope was reduced, the project was the largest in the history of the Clairton plant and one of the largest in U.S. Steel’s 112-year history.  He said it secures the jobs of 1,300 Clairton employees as well as the 1,400 who work at the company’s Edgar Thomson plant in Braddock and the Irvin plant in West Mifflin.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/breaking/us-steel-touts-coke-plant-project-as-good-for-jobs-air-672843/#ixzz2Jb0uFLsx

Clairton Bears Win Fourth Straight Class A State Football Championship

HERSHEY – Clairton is fast.  Clairton is physical.  Clairton is tenacious.

And those are the reasons the Bears are state champions – again.

Playing with the determined focus of a champion, Clairton derailed Dunmore, 20-0, on a sun-soaked Friday afternoon at Hersheypark Stadium to claim its fourth straight PIAA Class A title.

The Bears (16-0) built on their state-record winning streak, which currently sits at 63 games and is also the longest in the nation.

Read more:  http://thetimes-tribune.com/sports/piaa-football-dunmore-falls-to-four-time-champ-clairton-1.1416856

The Pride Of Clairton: A Town Looks To Football Team For Hope Amid Its Struggles

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United ...

Map of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, United States with township and municipal boundaries (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The doors to the Clairton Bears’ locker room are closed.  A space usually pumped full of booming bass from hip-hop music is silent, except for the young man in the corner wearing a black No. 9 jersey.  Sitting on a bench, he bows his head and cries.

His name is Robert Boatright.  He’s a senior running back and defensive end.  Senior Night festivities are complete, and Boatright still doesn’t know if he’ll play college football.  Now he’s gulping back tears.

Terrish Webb is Boatright’s best friend.  He moves to Boatright and consoles him.  Webb knows where he’ll play next year, at Kent State.  Even with his clarity on a night full of questions, Webb begins to cry, too.  His father was murdered when Terrish was 11, and it hurt hearing his dad’s name announced on Senior Night.

The rest of the seniors join Webb in forming a circle around Boatright, wrapping their arms around each other.  Nobody else can enter.  They’re the protectors of a historic winning streak that weighs on them daily. It’s at 55 now, will be 56 in a few hours, one more box checked until Heinz Field on Nov. 23, when they’ll likely set a state record of 60.  If they lose before then — or any other time, really — they believe they’ll be seen as failures.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-south/clairton-looks-to-team-for-hope-amid-struggles-663011/#ixzz2D4FiVth5