Pittsburgh City Council members heard from the public Monday about the third amended recovery plan for the city.
Pittsburgh has been under financial oversight for a decade. The amended plan, aimed at getting the city out of Act 47 status and closer to financial solvency, sets novel goals: to reduce the city’s deficit and debt burden, maintain the fund balance at an appropriate level, increase pension contributions and spend more on capital construction.
Council has yet to debate the plan, but members heard testimony from five people. Brian Marsh focused on pensions, currently funded at around 60 percent.
“I believe that the picture is significantly bleaker than is being presented by the numbers even today,” Marsh said. “And I think that pension is an elephant in the room, and nobody really wants to address the problem.”
Marsh urged the lawmakers to speak with their counterparts in Atlanta. That city overhauled its pensions in 2011, reducing pension liability and saving over 500 million dollars over 30 years.
AFSCME Local 2719 President, Claudia Smith, spoke against the plan. She said the plan does not provide for adequate pay raises for union workers, asking them to sacrifice more than non-union employees.
“I do look around, I see the empty desks, I see my workers working for two, three people because people have left the city for work," she said. "People are going to continue to leave the city because of this Act 47 plan. There is no longer a structure where you can come into the city, you can be hired, and you can work your way up."
Councilmembers shied away from commenting on specific issues. They will discuss the new plan Wednesday.