Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority again rejects Pittsburgh mayor’s proposed budget
Pittsburgh’s financial overseers accused Mayor Bill Peduto and his staff of being obstructionists, prompting top city administrators to deride a tumultuous public meeting Tuesday as a “kangaroo court.”
Pittsburgh’s relationship with the state-appointed Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority initially turned sour Monday when the board demanded Peduto attend a public meeting at the same time the mayor was delivering a previously scheduled address to City Council.
Tempers boiled over Tuesday when the authority’s board voted to reject Peduto’s $508 million 2015 spending plan for a second time, saying the administration has repeatedly ignored requests seeking financial information.
“At every turn our path has been thwarted by this administration,” said ICA board member Michael I. Danovitz, a Shadyside resident who chairs the Pittsburgh Stadium Authority. “For this reason, I cannot as a board member and as a citizen of the city of Pittsburgh … vote for this budget.”
The motion to reject the budget was approved by 3-1 vote, with Chairman Nick Varischetti, J. Matthew Simon and Danovitz voting in favor. Board Treasurer Ann Dugan dissented and Vice Chairwoman Elise Yanders abstained.
Dugan praised the Peduto administration for “phenomenal” cooperation. “The information is substantially more than we have ever received at any point in time,” she said.
Peduto said his administration has answered every written question from the authority. After the meeting, he characterized the decision to reject the budget as a “hostile action.”
Kevin Acklin, Peduto’s chief of staff, called the authority’s meeting a kangaroo court because its members called for a vote on the budget before allowing administration officials to comment. The authority later permitted the mayor to speak.
“Every question you asked, we provided an answer,” Peduto said, criticizing the authority for having the meeting on Veterans Day, a city holiday. At least 10 members of Peduto’s top staff accompanied him.
The ICA, which has the authority to approve city budgets and ask the state to withhold money to the city, rejected Peduto’s budget proposal Oct. 20. Board members said the administration has failed to supply details about a proposed real estate tax increase, $10 million in payments from the Pittsburgh Parking Authority, new contracts with union employees and about $1.8 million extra in permit fees the mayor has proposed.
The authority gave the city 15 days to provide additional information, after which the authority has 15 days to vote on the budget.
Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.