ShareThis Page

Pittsburgh on track to end year with surplus, possibly as much as $5M, Lamb says

Bob Bauder
| Tuesday, July 7, 2015, 11:39 a.m.
City Controller Michael Lamb of Mt. Washington.
Jasmine Goldband | Trib Total Media
City Controller Michael Lamb of Mt. Washington.

Pittsburgh is operating within its budget so far this year, and revenue is outpacing expenditures at a rate that will generate a $1 million to $5 million surplus, Controller Michael Lamb said Tuesday.

Lamb released his Popular Annual Financial Report, a “Cliff Notes version” of the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report that he released in May, saying the city is operating within its budget of $508 million for expenses and collecting revenue at a rate that would exceed the $517 million budgeted.

He said the city is reaping more money from its income and real estate taxes, which the city increased by 0.5 mills.

“We're running actually ahead of where we were last year, probably $16 million ahead,” Lamb said, adding that the increase is mainly from those tax collections.

“We have some interesting dynamics going on in the city right now,” he said. “People who work in the city are making more money. What we don't see is an increase in jobs.”

He noted that a local services tax, which requires $52 from each person who works in Pittsburgh, netted about $13.6 million in 2012 and 2013, increased to about $14 million in 2014 and is projected at $13.7 million in 2015.

Three Rivers Workforce Investment Board statistics for the number of jobs in the city shows a slight job growth from 2010 through 2013 and a drop in 2014.

In 2010, 437,466 people worked in the city. The number increased to 444,543 in 2011, 449,762 in 2012, 450,362 in 2013 and decreased to 449,727 in 2014.

Lamb said several departments, including Innovation and Performance, police and fire, have potential to exceed budgeted expenditures, but he cautioned that departments often pay a high percentage of bills at the beginning of the year.

That's exactly what's happening with Innovation and Performance, which as of June 30 spent nearly 56 percent of its budgeted $14.2 million, according to city Budget Director Sam Ashbaugh. He said the department has expenses such as software maintenance and utility fees that come in the first or second quarters.

“Overall they're going to be within budget,” he said.

The fire bureau spent 51 percent of its $57.8 million budget in the first half because of overtime, Ashbaugh said. A new class of recruits will graduate in the fall and reduce overtime costs.

He said the city pays police officers who work off-duty security jobs from the general fund and receives a quarterly reimbursement from businesses that employ them. Financial reports indicate the police bureau spent nearly 53 percent of its $76.8 million budget through June 30, but Ashbaugh said the percentage will drop after reimbursement for moonlighting is recorded.

The city ended 2014 with a $2 million surplus, according to Lamb's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-765-2312 or bbauder@tribweb.com.

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.