Although Pittsburgh is the only city out of 13 American cities studied in a recent survey to have a budget surplus, it does not necessarily mean that Pittsburgh should be a model to others.
“This report is a snapshot,” say Larry Eichel, Project Director of the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Philadelphia Research Initiative. “In many cities, things are changing from day to day.”
Eichel says Pittsburgh is in a favorable position now because of drastic changes that were made about 5 years ago, during a serious fiscal crisis. As a result of those changes and state supervision, the city’s operating budget is fiscally sound. Eichel adds that the operating budget does not reflect the pension problems and other financial problems Pittsburgh faces.
On the other hand, all other cities surveyed that vary from a 5 percent deficit in Seattle to a 20 percent deficit in Detroit, are trying to find ways to make ends meet. Eichel says city officials are typically doing one of two things: they are turning to broad-based tax hikes, or they are emphasizing service cuts, layoffs and salary freezes. A follow-up report is to be conducted this summer. For the full report, click here.