CREATING A SUSTAINABLE VISION FOR CITY FINANCES

Paisa Vasool!, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from .aditya.’s photostream

Last month, there was good news regarding the city’s pension system. An independent analysis conducted by the City Controller showed that actions by Council at the end of last year will enable the fund to be over 50% funded as was required under the State’s Act 44 legislation. There are several key factors to remember. The Council Plan, which was worked on in cooperation with Controller Lamb and the Oversight Board, does not require the city to give away its parking asset or the revenue from it. It does not, as the Mayor’s plan proposed, raise the cost of meters to the highest in the country. It does rely on additional revenue from the Parking Authority that required some increases to meters and these rates were raised effective June 1st, however, more needs to be done. Although it is disappointing that for the first six months of the year nothing had been administered, a majority of City Council has begun looking much further along than this year’s budget in order to analyze how the pension plan will affect future budgets for the next 15 years.

Solving the city’s financial future requires much more than stabilizing the pension system. In April, Council hosted three special meetings to discuss what is required to create a sustainable future for the city’s finances. This Progressive Majority of City Council believes we owe it to the residents and businesses of Pittsburgh to present a vision and a financial plan of action. The meetings were separated into three missions:

1) Our Immediate Situation
The first meeting took place on April 5th and focused on the 2011 Budget. It provided an analysis of both the operating and capital budgets and addressed any confusion from recent reports. In addition, it contained a series of recommendations for good government reforms to provide a more transparent and responsible budget process this year and in the future. You can view the PowerPoint presentation here.

2) The Next Six Years
The second Post Agenda was held on April 12th. This presentation focused on the next six years, 2012-2017. Many governments work to create 6-year capital plans in order to plan for major needs. We’ve created a 6-year “Capital-Plus” plan which incorporates the city’s Operating Budget along with future pension payments, needed capital improvements and coordinate these costs with the city’s present debt structure. View the PowerPoint report from this Post Agenda here.

3) The Long Term Financial Health of the City
The third — and final — Post Agenda was held on April 19th. This meeting concentrated on long-term financial planning (2018-2025). It coincides with the city’s “debt-cliff” — when expected debt payments lower significantly. It builds off of the findings of the first two meetings which addressed the 2011 operating and capital budgets and examined the needed actions of the city to assure a sustainable financial plan for 2012-2017 (including a funded 6-year capital plan). This final meeting has provided the groundwork for City Council to continue to take financially responsible actions that protect the taxpayers of Pittsburgh now and far into the future. Here’s the PowerPoint presentation from that meeting.

If you only have time to read one of the PowerPoint reports, read the third one — it explains where we are presently and the course and actions that will be required to assure a sustainable future for Pittsburgh into the year 2025. While most cities are trying to find ways to balance current and next year budgets, Pittsburgh City Council is taking a unique approach in using the next few years as building blocks in order to create a financial future that will serve the people of Pittsburgh well after our days in city government have passed.

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