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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

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