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Politics & Government

Pittsburgh 2014 Budget and Five-Year Plan Approved

Mark Nootbaar
90.5 WESA

The state-appointed body charged with overseeing Pittsburgh's finances has given the green light to a $479 million dollar city budget.

Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (ICA) approved the amended 2014 spending plan and its accompanying five-year fiscal plan.

According to the Mayor’s office, the budget and fiscal plan calls for the continued investment in public safety, public works, technology upgrades and quality-of-life improvements for residents.

It will not increase taxes, cut services or lead to lay-offs.

Nicholas Varischetti, ICA Board Chair, said creating the city budget was a collaborative effort by Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, the City Council, City Controller Michael Lamb and the ICA.

He said there were some technical adjustments made by the ICA and the administration - specifically in regards to pensions, liabilities and legacy costs.

The most substantial amendment to the budget proposal submitted September 23rd was a clarification of the commitment to bolster the pension fund.

The city is required to maintain its contribution levels to the pension account even if market conditions get worse.

The budget will contribute an additional $25 million more to the pension fund than is required by law.

“It’s the ICA’s position that these are really important items and as such we wanted to make sure the funding levels were appropriate,” Varischetti said.

Varischetti has been on the ICA board for a little more than a year and just became the chairman a few weeks ago.

He said the budget crafting process was a very positive experience because all the stakeholders worked together.

“The mayor, he was a leader, with his staff, city council members came together, and the controller,” Varischetti said. “And we discussed some really important issues over the last two weeks, and we did a lot of hard work.”

Bill Peduto - who is favored to succeed Ravenstahl - told the Post Gazette that he plans to eliminate some positions and adjust salaries for others to make room for the creation of new positions.

Varischetti said the ICA will work with the new mayor to reevaluate the budget if necessary.

“We’re hopeful that [the new administration] will see the hard work we put in and we won’t have to make many adjustments,” Varischetti said. “But if we do, we’ll come back to the table again and hopefully it will be the same collaborative approach and we’ll get this done.”