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Tom Fontaine

Leaders of Port Authority of Allegheny County’s largest labor union are taking a wait-and-see approach to county Executive Rich Fitzgerald’s appeal for $15 million in concessions to help avert deep transit cuts, an official said.

“They want to see what (specific offer) we’re going to bring back and if they can live with it,” said Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85 President Steve Palonis, who discussed Fitzgerald’s goals with his union’s 20-member executive board on Friday.

The ATU’s contract expired June 30. Members are working under terms of the agreement.

Fitzgerald, acting as unofficial leader in contract talks, said this week that he is seeking $10 million in management concessions and up to $35 million in state funding to help erase the agency’s $64 million deficit and prevent 35 percent service cuts planned for September.

It’s unclear from where remaining money would come. Fitzgerald said county money could be used, or Port Authority could try to generate revenue through advertising, selling naming rights or charging fees for spaces at park-and-ride lots.

“We’re looking at everything,” Fitzgerald said.

Despite Fitzgerald’s target for concessions, Gov. Tom Corbett’s office said there is no deal to provide more state money.

“There is no magic number. What the governor is looking for is a lot of work on the local level, in terms of cost-containment. No numbers have been agreed to. No final decisions have been made,” said Corbett spokeswoman Kelli Roberts.

The union hasn’t agreed to anything, either.

“There is no deal. Even if we do come up with $15 million (in concessions), it’s contingent on the governor coming up with a long-term, dedicated source of funding that will allow Port Authority to maintain current levels of manpower and service,” Palonis said.

A Corbett-appointed advisory commission last summer proposed ways to increase state transportation funding by $2.7 billion annually within five years. The proposals would generate up to $102.7 million a year for Port Authority by the fifth year. Corbett has not acted on the recommendations.

A negotiating session involving Port Authority, ATU, county and state officials is scheduled for July 16.

Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7847 or [email protected].

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