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Also known as City Budget, not for the County Budget

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Update 2006Edit

MediaEdit

PITTSBURGH - Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's $429 million budget for 2007 was approved in mid-October by a state oversight board. The budget goes to City Council in the last week of October, 2006. The five-member Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority approved the budget on the condition that the city cut overtime, try to avoid future deficits and not significantly increase City Council's budget.

Council has chafed at the prospect of keeping its own budget to about $1.7 million. The council had asked for another $200,000 for staff salaries and to hire a solicitor.

Ravenstahl's budget cuts the parking tax by a state-mandated 5 percent and halves the city's business privilege tax and the amusement tax paid by nonprofit arts groups.

The budget also includes funds for a '311' telephone hotline to provide information about city services and neighborhood improvement projects, an idea pushed by the late Mayor Bob O'Connor.

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New Mayor, Bob O'Connor wants to work with City Council on changes to the city's $418 million 2006 budget by Jan. 31, 2006. The city's administration has until the end of March to make revisions to the 2006 budget.

Even though the city has a budget, the city's state oversight board hasn't approved it because it doesn't pass on higher health insurance costs to some 425 nonunion city workers, who are under a wage freeze. The city's five-year financial recovery plan requires workers to carry the load of higher insurance costs. City Council and Murphy refused to pass on the costs last year. O'Connor said he hasn't yet decided what to do.

"His number one priority now is to get the budget in order," said Dick Skrinjar, O'Connor's spokesman.

Update 2005 Edit

In 2005's city budget, a report from the overlords estimated the city took in $412.4 million and spent $406.2 million. Both figures are lower than budgeted, thanks to disappointing payroll tax and fine collections on one hand and unfilled police positions on the other.

Had a $4.6 million contribution from nonprofit groups come in 2005, the city's surplus for the year might have approached $11 million, the report said. The payment came in early in 2006.

Former Mayor Tom Murphy had predicted that his tenure would end with the city $13 million in the black. "In general, this represents a remarkable turnaround," the report said, noting predictions of a $72 million shortfall before a recovery plan took effect. It recommended that new Mayor Bob O'Connor move cautiously with hiring, monitor overtime spending, aggressively collect taxes and be creative about finding new revenue.
Mr. Shields called that "generic advice" that ignores "the big three [problems], which we all talk about, which are pension, health care and debt." Those costs eat up half the city's budget.

Opposition Background: Budget BleaknessEdit

RICH LORD of the City Paper wrote on September 30, 2004:
Mayor Tom Murphy's latest budget proposal weighs in at 580 pages, but is light on new ideas. Its careworn solutions to the city's chronic deficit: cut workers and employee benefits, and beg the state to let the city levy new taxes on workers and businesses.
Where's the innovation?
Murphy's new budget is based largely on one crafted by Rendell's team, plus changes that came out of negotiations with an oversight board named by the governor and legislative leaders. The budget goes first to the oversight board for approval, then to council, which will likely be under pressure to approve it. "We're basically being served up whatever they want us to do, and I guess they're expecting us to roll over," says Shields.

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Motivation mattersEdit

Peduto's effort on City Council is to expand and in turn save money for the city, perhaps. But his efforts are really driven by the saving of city jobs. Seven union workers and one manager have been part of the department. The manager is to get a different position and the others are to be terminated. Rather, the task at hand needs to be directed at service to the city's citizens, not the job cuts.

  • What services are needed?
  • What meetings need to be televised?
  • What type of viewer response is obtained?
  • Are there any accountability lessons to be learned?
  • What data supports the demands of the resources and efforts and energy?

Cable TV Breau's request for proposalsEdit

TV's talking headsEdit

A number of citizens come before City Council on a regular basis. I know these people. I am one. There are better ways to handle public testimony.

More to come.


Shovel-logo3Edit

Selling ads on city fences, benches, recreation centers, parking garages and even parking ticketsEdit

A spending blueprint by Gov. Ed Rendell’s hand-picked budget gurus, approved by council in June, called for $2.9 million worth of ad sales in 2005. The latest budget includes just $500,000 in sales. That’s in spite of the fact that Squirrel Hill resident Les Ludwig has been begging city officials for months to let him sell ads. All Ludwig wants is a 4 percent commission, which he figures is “less than what it’ll cost anyone at the city to do it.� Ludwig has been building support on council.


Fringe benefits for city workers.Edit

The city expects to spend $76 million on fringe benefits, consisting mostly of health insurance for its 3,500 workers. That’s $3 million more in 2005 than 2004.

Councilor Doug Shields wants the city to join the state’s health insurance plan, saying the lower premiums the state negotiates could save the city $7 million a year. The idea has been floating around since May, 2004, but neither Murphy nor the city’s two state-appointed fiscal overseers have seriously pursued it, Shields says.

Seriously pursue the opportunities and work to overcome the possible issues so as to allow the city's workers to join with state workers for health insurance coverage.

Nonprofits were to chip in $5-millionEdit

What has become of the $5-million in the budget for 2005 from the nonprofits?

SavingsEdit

The Pittsburgh Public School budget had money in an emergency fund when Dr. John Thompson was the school's superintendent. That money seemed excessive, and in turn it was taken as part of the bailout.

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