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Politics & Government

Pittsburgh City Council Working on Federal Aid, Preparing For New Mayor

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA

Pittsburgh City Council is now on recess for August, but that doesn’t mean members won’t be working on some key issues. Starting tonight, council will hold a series of community meetings to discuss plans to spend $335 million in federal coronavirus aid provided by the American Rescue Plan.

Council passed a plan for the money last month, despite criticism from some that it did so with too little public input. President Theresa Kail-Smith said she expects council to make amendments on the funding, adding that some people have advocated for money to go to food-aid groups and other organizations that helped residents during the pandemic. She agrees that some of those groups should get some help.

"I'm open to amendments, and several other members are as well," Kail-Smith said. "For me, the food groups have done a lot for the city during COVID. There's groups that I've seen doing work and ... we couldn't have gotten through COVID without them, and I think it's determining who those groups are and how they get funding, and what they do with the funding. That's the details we need to iron out."

Council will also begin to discuss the city's own budget for 2022, with plans to resume in-person meetings — the first in over a year — when it returns after recess.

In the meantime, Kail-Smith said members are preparing for a new mayor, following incumbent Bill Peduto's loss in the Democratic primary. Democratic mayoral nominee Ed Gainey has met with most of council, Kail-Smith said.

"We have been talking more about working as a body together and doing more to make sure that council has more authority and oversight of the city and city functions," she said. Some of those plans are too premature to talk about, she said.

Gainey is "respectfully realizing that he is not the mayor, so he's working with us trying to respect Peduto's position," she said. "It's a difficult position to be in, but he's handling it well. If he's fortunate enough to win, we're all going to work together."