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Politics & Government

Pittsburgh City Council to declare city pension fund 'minimally distressed'

90.5 WESA

On Wednesday Pittsburgh City Council will declare the city's pension fund "minimally distressed." According to City Controller Michael Lamb, the fund is now has 70% of the money it needs to meet obligations to city workers —compared to 30% in 2005.

"While we're still significantly underfunded, we're not as underfunded as we were before," he said. "It shows that the pension fund, which was always one of our biggest concerns, is now moving in the right direction."

City Council will also discuss an ordinance that would remove the Social Security offset for non-union employees. In 2004, when the city was under a state oversight program known as Act 47, it limited payments out of the pension fund to non-union workers. Those employees had their pensions reduced by the amount they could expect to receive through their Social Security. Council will discuss reversing that policy on Wednesday.

Lamb said the moves show the city is moving in a positive direction: Just over a decade ago, the pension fund's finances were troubled enough that a state takeover was possible, and then-mayor Luke Ravenstahl was proposing to privatize operations of the city's Parking Authority. Lamb and City Council pressed for a different approach that pledged some parking tax revenue to help shore up the fund balance.

Lamb said the latest sign of improvement was a welcome but modest development.

"Other than the fact that it gives us a little bit of a better outlook," he said, "I don't think it changes the dynamic much."