In the past decade, Pittsburgh has accomplished much: East Liberty was revitalized, the river fronts were beautified, and it's received many accolades from the press, including the United States’ most liveable city. Through all of this, however, the city was in a precarious financial position.
For 10 years Pittsburgh has been under Act 47 oversight for distressed municipalities. For all its improvements, the city has yet to implement a comprehensive financial management system to address legacy costs of debt, pensions, post retirement benefits, workers compensation along with a financially viable long-term capital plan.
Mayor Bill Peduto asked Gov. Tom Corbett in January to keep Pittsburgh under Act 47 state oversight for financially distressed municipalities, saying that while city finances have improved, more economic reforms are needed.
Last week the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, one of two oversight boards for Pittsburgh, called for the city to reduce services by 20 percent. Peduto responded to this while explaining how difficult it has been to get the city’s finances in order.
“I think in certain departments we have the opportunity to reduce costs. Other departments, I would say, were woefully underfunded. If you look at a front page story in the Wall Street Journal yesterday about our steps, we allocate $200,000 to take care of enough steps, as the article stated, to reach the top of Mount Everest. There’s no 10 year plan to be able to do it, there’s no two year plan, there’s no plan. Our swimming pools, there’s no plan. Our urban forests, there’s no plan. The purchasing of our police vehicles, there's no plan. So we hired people to come in to start to complete the plans of having a capital fixed asset system in place that will go well beyond a 5 - 10 year plan. That’s the type of financial discipline the city needs. Saying just cut 20% lacks any thought.”
“Public safety director [Stephen] Bucar and myself will be attending meetings throughout the city. We’ll be utilizing the zone public safety meetings that happen on a monthly basis where community leaders gather to talk about public safety in their neighborhoods. We’ll ask others to come out to those meetings and hopefully they’ll get more engaged in the public safety of their own neighborhoods by doing so. And we’ll listen.”
Sounding Off on a Single Topic