Ravenstahl takes issue with Fitzgerald's plan to tap RAD money for Port Authority

| Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012, 5:10 p.m.

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl expressed concern Wednesday about plans for a long-term deal for the Allegheny Regional Asset District to help fund troubled local transit operations.

County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said the day before he will seek $3 million in funding from RAD not only to help prevent sweeping service and job cuts at the Port Authority of Allegheny County through June 2013, but annually for a term as long as 10 years.

“It's probably responsible to look at RAD for funding and, of course, we all want a solution (to Port Authority's financial problems),” Ravenstahl said. “But I want to make sure this would not adversely affect other organizations.”

Ravenstahl said he viewed any potential RAD funding as a “short-term solution” that he would not like to see become permanent. He said he planned to take a closer look at the proposal soon.

Fitzgerald said Tuesday that RAD funding would be a critical piece of local funding totaling $4.5 million that could leverage an additional $30 million in state funding to help Port Authority. He said the allocation wouldn't hurt other organizations because it would come from excess revenue that RAD has received this year, projecting the program will receive about $5 million more than anticipated this year.

The county executive appoints four of the board's members, the mayor appoints two and those six appointees select a seventh board member. At least six board members must agree on all budgetary matters and contractual agreements, said RAD Executive Director Daniel Donahoe.

RAD uses half of the proceeds from a 1 percent sales tax in Allegheny County to fund so-called regional assets, including civic, recreational and cultural entities, libraries and sports facilities. The law allows the district to consider other groups, but health-care entities, educational institutions and parks of less than 200 acres are not eligible.

“I can't think of a bigger regional asset we have than Port Authority,” Fitzgerald said.

Donahoe said the board is considering 101 requests for a combined $98 million in funding for 2013. This year, the board received $82 million from the sales tax. No applications for funding have been submitted on behalf of Port Authority, he said.

“There are a variety of regional assets in the city that would be happy to receive that money,” Ravenstahl said.

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