On Tuesday, with a 7-2 vote, the Pittsburgh City Council approved Mayor Bill Peduto's Act 47 recovery plan. The five-year plan includes recommendations for a possible property tax increase and bond issues to improve deteriorating infrastructure.
Kevin Acklin, the mayor's Chief of Staff and Chief Development Officer explained how the City plan is different from past plans.
"There are a number of things. On the revenue side, there are multiple opportunities for us to raise revenue. One of them has been the restoration of the real estate tax cut that was made. That is something we are looking to avoid. There's language in there about working with our non-profit partners like UPMC and Highmark and our large institutions to provide for a more long-term, sustained revenue to provide payments to the city for all of the services we provide."
When it comes to expenditures Acklin said "There's a number of measures where we are tightening our belt. We're asking city employees to take pay freezes for at least a year, limitations on salary increases in the future, there's limitations on spending, and we have an allotted amount of money under Act 47 through which we'll have the ability to bargain with under the new police, fires, EMS, and other contracts that are all coming up this year. It's a balanced approach it provides really a baseline for us to make sure we stay on the path of financial recovery."
The path of recovery has been a long one but, Acklin said the city is in a much better place then it was ten years ago.
"When this Act 47 was first enacted we had over 900 layoffs in the city. People were losing their jobs. We had to close pools and parks, and provided for a really big drop in city services. We've come a long way from there, but we still have a way to go and we believe that this plan provides a five-year plan for exit from Act 47, at the same time handling a lot of these structural issues."