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Mayor Presents Balanced $470M Budget for 2013

Noah Brode

Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl presented a $470 million operating budget proposal to City Council on Tuesday, saying the 2013 spending plan runs a surplus but includes no new or increased taxes while at the same time increasing pension fund payments.

Touting a continuation of fiscally responsible policies, Ravenstahl said the new budget would also put the city's rainy day fund at a "healthy" $50 million.

As for debt service payments, this year's allocation of $87.1 million is down by roughly $500,000 from last year's line item. Ravenstahl said the administration is also addressing the city's other legacy costs in its five-year fiscal plan.

"In addition, we've put five million dollars annually, so twenty-five million dollars [through 2017] into our pension fund," said Ravenstahl.

The mayor said the $65 million capital budget proposal would fund purchases that would support essential government functions.

"We will invest six million dollars toward our ongoing effort to modernize our city's fleet," said Ravenstahl. "We will invest another ten million dollars into a robust paving program. We will continue our commitment to aggressively taking down dangerous structures by investing over three million dollars in demolition."

Ravenstahl said the capital budget plan also includes roughly $16 million for recreational facilities, including spray parks and ball fields.

However, City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak said she's not entirely satisfied with the capital budget proposal. Rudiak said she wants more particulars for broad spending areas, such as road paving and recreation.

"We see a lot of what we've seen before," said Rudiak. "We see a lot of large line items for things like ball fields and lighting and playgrounds, but I'm not seeing the detail that I'd like to see that is really transparent about what's happening here."

Rudiak said she hopes the mayor and Council can find a better way to slowly pace the spending of the city's $80 million bond issuance last year.

Mayor Ravenstahl said the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority has already approved his spending plan, and now it's up to Council to pass it or make any tweaks as members see fit. The operating and capital budgets must be passed by January 1 of 2013.


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