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Last Year's $17 Million Surplus Another Mark Of Pittsburgh's Financial Health, Controller Says

An-Li Herring
90.5 WESA
Pittsburgh City Controller Michael Lamb released the city's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for fiscal year 2017 at a news conference Tuesday, May 1, 2018.

Just months after exiting financially distressed status, the city of Pittsburgh is continuing its march toward financial stability, according to city controller Michael Lamb. On Tuesday, he announced a surplus of $17 million for 2017.

Pittsburgh also made progress in paying down its debt and improving its pension fund, Lamb said. After dipping below 30 percent in 2010, the pension is now 62-percent funded. Lamb credited parking taxes for helping the city keep its pension funded at higher levels. In the past, the city drew down on existing funds to pay retirees.

“We still have a long way to go, but we’re moving in the right direction,” Lamb said. “We’re finally seeing that we might just actually solve this pension problem as we move forward.”

While the city’s budgetary health has been improving in recent years, Lamb sees some potential pitfalls ahead. It’s been five years since Pittsburgh’s largest nonprofits – and some of the biggest employers in the city – stopped making payments in lieu of taxes, he noted.

“I think that’s a major problem, a major failure that we’ve gone this long without an agreement,” Lamb said.


The controller warned that the city must also remain vigilant about preventing overspending in the future.

An-Li Herring is a reporter for 90.5 WESA, with a focus on economic policy, local government, and the courts. She previously interned for NPR Legal Affairs Correspondent Nina Totenberg in Washington, DC, and the investigations team at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. A Pittsburgh native, An-Li completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Michigan and earned her law degree from Stanford University. She can be reached at aherring@wesa.fm.