Legislators agree to help in mediating Pittsburgh dispute with ICA
A state-appointed board that oversees Pittsburgh finances is seeking a bipartisan panel of Pittsburgh-area legislators to help mediate a long-running dispute with the city, two of the lawmakers said Thursday.
Democratic state Rep. Dom Costa of Stanton Heights and Republican Sen. Randy Vulakovich of Shaler said they agreed along with Rep. Harry Readshaw, a Carrick Democrat, to step in if necessary.
“The three of us have been approached, and the three of us agreed to do it if needed, but this is a little premature at this point,” Vulakovich said. “There’s nothing formal about this yet.”
Mayor Bill Peduto’s administration and the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority have been at odds for months over state gambling tax revenue the ICA is withholding from the city.
Tim McNulty, Peduto’s spokesman, said city officials are willing to meet with the legislators, a sentiment ICA Chairman Nick Varischetti echoed in an emailed statement.
“The ICA welcomes the input of the members of the legislature,” Varischetti said.
Pittsburgh has sued the ICA, which has legal authority over city budgets, seeking the release of $12.8 million in gambling money.
The ICA, which has legal control of the money, won’t release it until the city implements a payroll system, scheduled to go live in January, and complies with other financial demands.
On Wednesday, the ICA board rescinded its approval of Pittsburgh’s 2015 budget and rejected Peduto’s 2016 budget proposal.
Pittsburgh officials say the ICA is illegally withholding city money and contend Wednesday’s board meeting was illegal because, with only two members, there aren’t enough to form a quorum.
The ICA board said it had the legally required numbers.
“The ICA is a board that was lawfully put in and whatever is going on there, the city suing them or them suing the city, is not good,” said Costa, a former city police chief. “I was a hostage negotiator for years, and think I have the skills and know-how to help.”
Readshaw could not be reached for comment.
Vulakovich and Costa said they would try to determine where the sides agree and disagree in an attempt to find middle ground.
Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-765-2312 or email@example.com.