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Peduto Introduces 2021 Pittsburgh City Budget

Sarah Kovash
90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto announced the city's proposed budget for 2021 on Monday. The spending plan totals $564 million and includes no tax hikes or layoffs -- for now.  
Peduto says that after a summer of protest, Pittsburgh is investing in violence prevention and policing alternatives, which includes creating an Office of Community Health and Safety. The mayor’s office says that budget for those initiatives will be about $4 million annually. Some of that money will come from a new "Stop the Violence" Trust Fund, which is financed from the city's general fund at a level roughly equivalent to 5 percent of what the city spends on policing.

“My proposed budget includes shifting some funding and responsibilities from the Pittsburgh police to the health safety and violence prevention initiative,” Peduto said in a morning budget address.

The budget for policing next year is more than $111 million. That's down from the estimated cost in 2020, when personnel costs were inflated by an extra pay period that fell into the calendar, but more than $5.5 million higher than what the city spent on policing in 2019.

"We're not defunding the police, but are reinvesting in our communities," Peduto said.

Peduto's budget avoids staffing cuts and tax hikes in part due to economy measures like having some workers forgo cost-of-living increases, and leaving some vacant positions unfilled. But Peduto says that won't be enough if Pittsburgh, which like many local governments is suffering a loss of tax revenue due to the coronavirus, doesn't get federal aid in the first half of next year.

“It should never have to come to this, and it breaks my heart to say, but if we do not get aid from Washington it will require the city to make $25.6 million in additional personnel cuts starting July 1,” he said. “Which is approximately the jobs of 634 city employees.”

Pittsburgh City Council will begin hearings on the budget next week.