Responsible Banking Act Vote Delayed By Pittsburgh Council

Mar 28, 2012

The vote on whether the city of Pittsburgh should require institutions with whom they invest to reinvest into the community will wait another week.

City Council discussed the legislation Wednesday but Councilman Bruce Kraus, in addition to others, motioned to hold the vote for an opportunity to discuss the policy with members of the city's law department, the city controller, and representatives from the Urban Redevelopment Authority.

"I don't want to make a decision, even an overnight decision, on something that affects the financial future of every neighborhood in the city," Kraus said. "I'm not an attorney. I'd like to have advice from my attorney. I would like to have advice from the finance department."

The bill, formerly sponsored by Councilman Bill Peduto more than a year ago, was reintroduced by Daniel Lavelle with some modifications of Peduto's original ideas. Lavelle began the discussion with a motion to remove a provision of the bill that limits the type of financial institution in which the city can invest.

Deputy Director of Finance Tony Pokora explained that without its deletion, the city could no longer put money into institutions like PA Invest, a state treasury-run program that pulls money from across the state and has much better rates than banks.

Peduto said the entire goal of the act is to put the institution's investment back into the community over a small financial return.

"The idea of the language, the idea of having a responsible banking act in the city of Pittsburgh, was not to simply look at the best rate, which we have done for the past 100 years, but to look at which depositories had the ability to reinvest our dollars back into our community," Peduto said. "The argument of responsible banking act isn't one that looks for the best rates and reinvestment but actually places reinvestment above best rates."

Peduto agreed that city leaders should be in attendance prior to the vote to voice thoughts and concerns. He also pushed for a change in the legislation that would put oversight of the act into city controller Michael Lamb's office, rather than a committee, which he said would not be as efficient.

"We created in this government the city controller's office and our controller's job is to audit performance and finances, and this bill is an audit of performance and finances," Peduto said.