Peduto Calls Budget Rejection A "Hostile Action"
The Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (ICA), a state operated financial oversight committee, has rejected Mayor Bill Peduto’s nearly $508 million 2015 spending plan Tuesday for a second time.
The ICA said the city continuously ignored the board’s request for financial information, including property tax and parking meter rate adjustment specifics, as well as failing to provide a “signed EMS contract.”
The city previously submitted a 10-page document to the ICA addressing all of its concerns following the first budget rejection in October, but in an interview on 90.5WESA's "Essential Pittsburgh," Peduto said now the board is asking for information the city doesn’t have.
“We don’t even know from the county yet what the value of our property is in order to set a millage rate in order to be able to determine how much money we’re making,” He said. “So we told them, this is how much money we’re going to go after. This is what the property tax will produce in 2015. Once we know what the value is, it’s simple division.”
The city also couldn’t offer a Parking Authority agreement on meter rates to the board because it has yet to be approved by council.
Peduto’s Chief-of-Staff, Kevin Acklin, called the meeting a “kangaroo court,” while Peduto called the budget rejection a “hostile action.”
“We’re not playing the game and that’s what it comes down to and they’re flexing their muscle now and this is what happens when culture change clashes,” Peduto said. “It’s sort of like clouds hitting in the sky and lightning happens.”
The ICA originally scheduled the emergency meeting Monday, the same time Peduto was required to give his state of the city address to City Council. On Tuesday, the mayor and several of his staff members attended the meeting to answer any budget related questions, but Peduto said the ICA didn’t give them a chance to speak.
“They get to be the jury. They get to be able to say, ‘This is a budget that we approve, it now goes on to council and we’re recommending that that change happens,’” he said. “But what they don’t get to do is make all those changes happen. That’s still a power that’s vested with the City Council.”
Peduto said the ICA is “flexing its muscle” to protect its own interests.
“This board operates under the will of the state and it has to be able to show that they are producing something in order to be able to continue to exist,” he said.
The city has 15 days to provide the ICA with the additional information, and then the board has 15 days to vote on the budget.