Source of Port Authority's bailout unclear
Officials who were involved in negotiations to prevent Port Authority of Allegheny County's largest-ever service cuts said on Monday that the state and county assured them they will provide a combined $35 million to help keep buses running through next summer.
At the same time, the officials said, the state and county will work to devise a plan within a year that increases funding to the beleaguered agency for years to come.
“If that doesn't happen, we're in big trouble,” said Amalgamated Transit Union Local 85 President Steve Palonis.
Exactly how it will happen remained a mystery. County and state officials refused to say where they would get extra money for Port Authority, either in the short or long term, and when it might be distributed.
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said details would be provided on Tuesday in a Downtown news conference with him, PennDOT Secretary Barry Schoch, Port Authority CEO Steve Bland and Palonis. But Kelli Roberts, a spokeswoman for Gov. Tom Corbett, said, “I wouldn't expect a detailed discussion about the financial package at this point. It's still being discussed.”
State House Majority Leader Mike Turzai, R-Bradford Woods, was noncommittal. “We'll have to sit down with the governor and take a good look at the terms. Keep in mind, state taxpayers are already the prime contributors to the Port Authority,” he said. The state supplies almost half of the agency's operating money.
Palonis said terms of the concessionary contract that the union OK'd on Sunday would revert to the more generous terms of the previous contract if funding doesn't materialize and Port Authority is forced to lay off any more than 5 percent of its 2,300 workers. The deal included a pay freeze and increased employee contributions to pension funding.
Before the news conference, Port Authority's board of directors is expected to vote to scrap plans to cut service by 35 percent and lay off more than 500 workers two weeks from now. It could raise non-union workers' pension contributions to 10.5 percent of their wages, from 5.5 percent, in a change that mirrors concessions approved on Sunday by Local 85, Port Authority's largest union.
“How could we object? We're talking about maintaining service and keeping more than 550 jobs from being cut,” Port Authority Chairman John A. Brooks said. “I don't expect any glitches.”
The moves are part of an effort to close a $64 million deficit in the agency's $333.1 million budget.
The pension change for non-union workers, along with other internal administrative cost-cutting moves, is expected to save $10 million annually, officials said.
Contracts approved by ATU Local 85 are expected to save $15 million, and fare increases imposed in July should generate $6 million in revenue. Those changes, combined with $30 million in cash from the state and $4.5 million from the county, should close the deficit and prevent all cuts that had been planned to address this year's fiscal crisis, officials said.
Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7847 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins’ Scuderi, Despres an odd couple on defense
- Steelers notebook: Roethlisberger says Saints game is ‘must win’
- Pitt’s Dixon searching for answers in Maui
- NFL notebook: RG3 ‘not happy’ with benching
- Kiski Area boys ready for encore
- Kiski Area girls brace for rough season
- ‘Charlie Brown’s Christmas’ reminder of holiday message
- Former Worthington police chief going to trial
- Holiday greeting cards benefit charities
- Steelers cornerback Taylor ready to swap earpiece for helmet
- Contractor fighting Armstrong blight one house at a time