Peduto asks state to keep Pittsburgh under Act 47 during Capitol visit
HARRISBURG — Pittsburgh Councilman Bill Peduto wrapped up a two-day Capitol visit on Tuesday with a request that state officials keep the city under Act 47 state oversight until its fiscal situation stabilizes.
Reducing a $700 million unfunded pension liability and $15 million structural deficit are among benchmarks to meet before the Act 47 team is dissolved, he said. The Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, another oversight agency, would remain in place.
The Democratic nominee for mayor, Peduto met with lawmakers, row officers and C. Alan Walker, secretary for the Department of Community and Economic Development, with whom he discussed Pittsburgh's status as a financially distressed city.
Walker is reviewing the city's fiscal condition and will take into account Peduto's viewpoint and others, DCED spokesman Steve Kratz said. The city's Act 47 coordinators recommended in October that their oversight expire.
Peduto appeared confident and relaxed during a casual meeting with reporters in the Capitol media center.
“I think it was absolutely brilliant of him to come up (to Harrisburg) before the election and establish relationships with people he doesn't know,” said Moe Coleman, a professor of urban government with the University of Pittsburgh. “He certainly knew many people already; some of them had helped his campaign.”
Reinforcing those ties is important, Coleman said: “The city is dependent on the state. The state controls so much of what the city can and cannot do.”
Peduto said he would visit the Capitol “a lot” if elected in November. He would pattern his relationship with state government after Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter's, from whom he intends to seek advice. Nutter is a regular visitor and well-known face at the Capitol.
“That's a wise move on his part,” said Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Forest Hills. Costa said Nutter has cultivated relationships with lawmakers in both parties and from both ends of the state.
“I agree with his position on Act 47,” Costa said.
More than 20 municipalities have state oversight through the Financially Distressed Municipalities Act. Pittsburgh was designated as such in December 2003.
Peduto, 48, of Point Breeze vowed from the moment he won the nomination to “fight for a new Pittsburgh.” In a city where Democrats outnumber Republicans 5-to-1, he is the favorite against GOP candidate Josh Wander. Yet he presented a humble front: “I am the Democratic nominee; I haven't won an election.”
Wander, 42, of Squirrel Hill met with Mayor Luke Ravenstahl during a luncheon at the mayor's office. The two discussed “the importance of a smooth transition between the Ravenstahl administration and a possible Wander administration,” said his spokesman, Nathan Catalano. Pittsburghers haven't elected a Republican mayor since 1934.
Though he doesn't think the city's Act 47 status should follow a timetable, Peduto said the city “could be out in two years or five years.”
Ravenstahl asked state officials to release the city from Act 47 operating constraints during a public hearing in November, arguing the city hasn't raised taxes and began a number of development projects in a tough economy.
Two items Peduto hoped to discuss with state lawmakers: the East Liberty Transit Center, a project he considers vital to the East End, and The Summerset at Frick Park development.
Among those with whom he met were Treasurer Robb McCord and Auditor General Eugene DePasquale, both Democrats. He talked with House and Senate Democrats on Monday and with Gov. Tom Corbett's chief of staff, Steve Aichele.
The importance of following protocol, something he learned during years in government, drove his desire to meet with officials, Peduto said.
“It's been a long time since we've seen a mayor of Pittsburgh up here meeting with legislative leaders,” said House Minority Leader Frank Dermody, D-Oakmont. “I think it's smart.”
Pittsburgh's recent mayors typically trooped to Harrisburg seeking a handout of state cash, or permission to impose taxes or fees.
“I'm not here for a bailout at all,” Peduto said.
Brad Bumsted is Trib Total Media's state Capitol reporter. Reach him at 717-787-1405 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
- Steelers film session: Harrison on the field often
- Mental health facility won’t take Franklin Regional stabbing suspect as patient
- Steelers are vowing to fix the costly penalties, lack of self-discipline
- At least $100,000 in appliances stolen from new homes around Western Pa.
- Corbett: Downtown project will ‘make a huge difference’ in Pittsburgh
- 20 improbable Pirates wins in 2014
- Mercer’s improved defense at shortstop gives Pirates a boost
- Healthy again, Penguins’ Dupuis eager for game action
- No one way to fix Western Pennsylvania’s heroin problem, report says
- Arnold man charged after 20-mile chase
- Latest loss has Panthers looking for answers