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Pittsburgh public safety director says city treasurer should receive payments for off-duty police work

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Tuesday, March 19, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Mike Huss wants businesses and event organizers that hire city employees for off-duty work to pay the city treasurer instead of the individual department.

“That's No. 1,” he said.

Huss met on Monday with City Council members and other city and community officials behind closed doors about the issue.

There was not a quorum at the meeting and no decisions were made, Councilman Patrick Dowd said. Having a quorum would have required opening the meeting to the public and media.

Questions about money that businesses pay the police bureau for off-duty security work prompted the meeting. The money amounts annually to about $700,000 in administrative fees and $6 million in officer wages, but it goes to police special events funds with no accounting of the revenue source. It is not subject to audits.

The FBI is investigating whether the money was diverted to unauthorized Greater Pittsburgh Police Federal Credit Union accounts and used for such things as meals, travel and a promotion party for officers.

Since at least 2007, the city has deposited the money into the special events funds to pay for on-duty officer overtime.

Government agencies shouldn't put money into an expense account, Huss said.

Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith, who called the meeting, said the fire and EMS bureaus and Bureau of Building Inspection charge businesses for having firefighters, paramedics and building inspectors on hand for sporting events, parades and fireworks displays.

EMS bureaus have a separate trust fund for paramedics' wages and a $3.85 hourly administrative fee, Kail-Smith said. Huss said EMS bureaus use the money to buy equipment and help pay overtime.

Businesses reimburse the fire bureau and Bureau of Building Inspection, but it was unclear if the agencies charge an administrative fee as police and EMS do.

Employees receive the checks and deposit them into authorized general fund revenue accounts, city officials said. Finance Director Scott Kunka said that money, unlike police special events, is listed as revenue and the accounts are audited each year.

Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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