ShareThis Page
News

Ravenstahl administration announces $440 million budget

| Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2008, 12:00 p.m.

Aides to Mayor Luke Ravenstahl today released a $440 million budget, which would increase Pittsburgh's contribution to its anemic pension fund, cut unfilled positions and avoid a tax increase.

The spending plan calls for cutting 65 unfilled jobs in the city's 3,200-employee work force and converting 40 police desk jobs into patrol positions. The plan does not contain a tax increase.

Ravenstahl missed a news conference today to announce the budget because he is ill and plans to visit a doctor, a spokeswoman said. Chief of Staff Yarone Zober and Finance Director Scott Kunka released the budget proposal instead.

Due to delays in construction of a North Shore casino, the proposed budget relies on $2.4 million in local gambling revenues, down from the state's original projection of $5.3 million. Still missing is an expected three-year commitment from a group of nonprofits known as the Pittsburgh Public Service Fund. The tentative budget calls for $4.3 million a year, beginning in 2009, from the group.

Kunka said he's confident the commitment from the nonprofits will materialize, but he can't be sure of the amount. The balanced budget plan depends on the nonprofits' contributions because revenues outpace expenditures by about $3.5 million.

Zober said he believes City Council and state financial overseers will approve.

"This is a structurally balanced budget," he said. "It would be very hard for someone to look at this budget and say it's not a responsible thing to do."

The city is anticipating a $93.4 million surplus by the end of the year, but that fund balance is expected to erode in 2011 and 2012.

Zober said the surplus was created to deal with the deficit spending expected in two years.

Ravenstahl submitted the 2009 budget and five-year spending plan Monday to the state oversight board, formally known as the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority. The city is required to submit the budget to the board under the terms of its state-guided financial recovery plan.

Gov. Ed Rendell declared Pittsburgh a financially distressed municipality in December 2003 when the city was on the verge of bankruptcy.

The five-member ICA board has 30 days to request changes to Ravenstahl's proposed budget before the mayor presents it to City Council on Nov. 10.

The ICA must vote to approve the budget.

"We are confident that we have met or exceeded their expectations," Kunka said of the city's financial overseers.

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.

click me