Pittsburgh Budget Gets Final Blessing

Jan 20, 2017

The deal with Rivers Casino to send $10 million to the city of Pittsburgh despite the unconstitutionality of the tax behind it will keep the City's budget whole.
Credit Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 FM WESA

Nearly three weeks into the new year, the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority has given final approval to Pittsburgh’s 2017 budget.

The ICA approved Pittsburgh’s budget in October with the condition that the city find a way to replace $10 million in gaming revenues that would no longer be flowing into the city’s coffers.

The tax known as the “local share assessment” was deemed to be unconstitutional last year, but the court stayed the decision until this month to allow the Pennsylvania legislature time to pass a new version of the law. State lawmakers failed to act but the Peduto administration reached a deal with the Rivers Casino to continue to make the payments.

“I think it’s the proverbial win-win. It allowed the money to continue to flow without interruption while the legislature and the State Supreme Court is looking at it,” B.J Leber, ICA Chair, said. “So it’s pretty much business as usual for now.”

ICA Interim Executive Director Reynolds Clark says the ICA and the Act 47 board, (the city’s other oversight board) gave the mayor control over the negotiations.

“We wanted the city to be able to say to the Rivers Casino that this was an important mater and the two outside authorities are watching how this works out,” Clark said.

Should the state legislature pass a new casino tax that provides Pittsburgh with $10 million or more, the deal with the Rivers Casino will be void.

“Were also commending the Rivers Casino for honoring their commitment to the city,” Clark said.  “Right now it looks like a win-win for everybody.”

ICA Board Member Michael Danovitz cast the only no vote.  Danovitz attended the meeting by phone and has not been available for comment.