A vote on the city's five-year budget plan was again delayed by Pittsburgh City Council today, by a unanimous vote. This followed a 7-1 vote that Mayor Luke Ravenstahl be compelled to sit in on a council meeting regarding Act 47. Reverend Richard Burgess was the only nay as most of council agreed that the mayor's input and public opinion on Act 47 would be necessary before a vote could be cast.
All members of council voiced their disapproval of the details of the plan. Councilman William Peduto says Act 47 lacks the creative ideas necessary to make Pittsburgh a great city. "We won't go into the red, or if we do, we'll have to raise taxes, which is really the inevitable part of this. But it really doesn't take us to where we need to be as a city. We will strive for mediocrity," says Peduto.
Several of the plan's finer points were unreliable, according to the council. Councilman Patrick Dowd says that the sale or lease of parking garages before the budget deadline is a long shot. The plan also counts on $5 million in revenue each year from non-profit groups; however, Councilman Doug Shields says the city cannot by law make those groups do anything. Additionally, says Shields, support from the state government is highly unlikely. "I'm going to help the country by saving gas and not going to Harrisburg anymore," says Shields.
Burgess, however, fears strong repercussions from the state government if the plan is not passed before the June 30 deadline. "If the Act 47 coordinators recommend to the secretary of the DCED that the city be punished for non-compliance, we will have tens of millions of dollars in state aid and casino moneys withheld," says Burgess.
Councilwoman Tonya Payne says the fiscal problems of the city could be solved if the council urged the state to repeal the bar on a commuter tax for the city. She says commuters use city services as well as city residents, and should have to put in their fair share of money to fund these services.