Mayor Defends Plan to Borrow $80 Million

Dec 1, 2011

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl stood behind his $467 million operating budget proposal this morning, despite city council criticism of his plan to borrow $80 million over two years for capital improvements.

Councilman Bill Peduto has said that he wants to know what specific improvements that money will be funneled towards before accepting the largest bond allocation in Pittsburgh's history.

Ravenstahl said that his operating and capital budgets need to both pass unchanged.

"When I say right, council usually says left. When I say up, they usually say down, and that's no different in this case," Ravenstahl said. "But the reality is we need to invest this money. If we don't issue debt, we'll continue to defer maintenance on buildings. We won't buy any police cars, any fire trucks. We won't invest in public safety."

By not raising taxes or ordering layoffs, Ravenstahl said that borrowing is necessary for these immediate public fixes, most specifically public safety.

"These are dollars that need to be spent to maintain our buildings, to maintain our structures, to maintain our infrastructure, and roadways. To invest in public safety," he said.

Ravenstahl's administration has not issued debt in five years, and the mayor said his main goal is to maintain the city's financial responsibility in order to be released from state oversight through Act 47, which the city has been under since 2003.

"We want to continue to do what we think is right, and whether that is the budget being passed, or us looking at getting out of Act 47, we're going to continue to do what we think is right, what is financially responsible. Just like we've done since the day we started," Ravenstahl said.