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Pittsburgh Council Bill Would Repeal Mayor's Special Expense Fund

Pittsburgh City Councilman Corey O'Connor introduced a bill Tuesday to repeal a 1995 law that set up a special "imprest fund" from which the mayor could withdraw up to $10,000 at a time for travel expenses.

O'Connor said he is not suggesting that Mayor Luke Ravenstahl or any other city leader used the fund illegitimately. Rather, he said his legislation simply requires the mayor to file for travel expenses via the same process used by all other city employees.

"Obviously, if the mayor's going out of town and it is important business to attract new people to the city of Pittsburgh, possible new businesses that want to open up here or new companies, these expenditures are OK," said O'Connor. "There's nothing wrong with them; we just think it should go through this system."

The move to repeal the 18-year-old fund comes after newspaper reports questioned the account's validity. However, City Controller Michael Lamb said it appears the account was used appropriately.

The mayoral imprest account can contain up to $10,000 at a time, and it is periodically refilled from the general fund when the fund balance runs low. If passed, O'Connor's bill would transfer any remaining funding in the account directly into the city's general fund.

O'Connor said the bill he introduced Tuesday will be the first in a series.

"There's other imprest funds out there, and we have to sort of gather them all, one by one," O'Connor said. "This is just a stepping stone for bringing all of that information and all of those funds together, so we have better checks and balances on them."

The bill will be up for a preliminary vote on April 17, and final passage could come as early as April 23.

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