No Tax Hike In Mayor's Budget, But Major Capital Investments Proposed
Four weeks after the state oversight panels approved it, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl presented his 2012 Operating Budget to City Council on Monday. The $467 million spending plan is 3.7 percent higher than this year's budget, but calls for no tax hikes nor layoffs.
Under the requirements of Act 47, the mayor delivered his 2012 budget to the state-appointed Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority on September 23, which then approved it 4 weeks later.
"Over the course of five years, through determination and consistency, we've successfully implemented a responsible financial plan that fulfills our vision to complete Pittsburgh's financial recovery and set us on the path to population growth," Ravenstahl said. "We now have an impressive credit rating, and we tackled past administrations' debt, retiring 30 percent of our debt principle or almost a quarter of a billion dollars in just five years."
The city's debt payments have been trimmed by $20 million annually, and it has not incurred any additional debt for the past 5 years. So, with reduced debt and attractive borrowing rates, Ravenstahl is proposing borrowing $80 million over the next 2 years for capital improvements.
"This is not a throwback to credit card borrowing," Ravenstahl said. "In fact, our five year plan calls for additional contributions to the pay-as-you-go capital budget in years 2013 and 2014."
The 2012 capital budget calls for investments in neighborhoods in everything from street paving to improvements in playgrounds, parks, and ball fields.
"We will triple our investment in our recreation and community centers, investing $4 million dollars to make necessary improvements that will make our city even more livable," Ravenstahl said.
Next year, the city plans to spend nearly $8 million dollars to outfit police vehicles with in-car cameras, police stations with security camera systems, and provide new radios that will modernize public safety communications.
Council has until December 31st to pass the mayor's budget or make modifications.