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Pittsburgh Mayor Peduto’s proposed budget has no tax increase

Bob Bauder
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Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto outlined his $555 million general fund spending plan and $104 million capital budget to City Council on Tuesday.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto introduced his 2019 spending plans to City Council on Tuesday, promising more than a half-billion dollar investment in city employees, roads and bridges and quality of life institutions.

In an annual budget address to council members, the mayor said 2019 would bring the highest level of street paving “in living memory,” the greatest investment in parks and recreation and senior centers in more than a decade and more money spent improving public safety stations than the total spent from 2010-17.

“Our infrastructure is falling apart,” Peduto said. “Everything from our facilities to the systems that operate them, to bridges and roads and sewer lines. Everything is crumbling, and we have to invest more than we’ve done in the past and that’s what we’re doing.”

Council in coming weeks will hold hearings and tweak the $572 million operating budget and $132 million capital improvement plan. Members will vote on the budgets in December. The operating budget does not include a real estate tax increase.

The city will have the benefit of an additional $23 million in revenue next year because of a pay down in total debt from 74 million to $51 million, according to the administration.

Peduto said he would spread the wealth across all council districts.

He said $10 million would go toward flood control and protection against landslides, both of which have plagued the city in 2018. More than $6 million is earmarked for city parks. Another $6 million will pay for improvements to public safety facilities, including police, fire and paramedic stations.

“2019 will see the highest level of paving in living memory,” Peduto said. “$20.3 million will allow for over 70 miles of roadway to be resurfaced.”

The city is setting aside $2 million for design of a public safety training center at the former VA hospital campus in Lincoln-Lemington and $2 million to accelerate a climate action plan designed to reduce government energy consumption by 50 percent by 2030.

Peduto said the city would increase amounts paid into underfunded employee pension plans. Over the next five years, he said, the total amount would surpass a state required minimum by $200 million.

Pittsburgh will increase staffing at the Department of Mobility and Infrastructure and hire more inspectors for the Department of Permits Licenses and Inspections, which has seen a dramatic increase in permit applications because of new development in recent years.

Peduto said union and non-union employees would be in line for raises, starting with attorneys in the city Law Department. He said city research indicates the attorneys are paid less than those working for cities of comparable size.

“As we develop the city’s needs for the next decade we have adopted smart practices to ensure we balance the needs of the city with moderate debt obligations,” he said. “I’m confident we’ve taken the steps to provide a solid financial future for the city of Pittsburgh, its citizens and its guests.”

Bob Bauder is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Bob at 412-765-2312, [email protected] or via Twitter @bobbauder.

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