Pittsburgh City Council gave tentative approval today to what Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl calls a stopgap 2010 budget. The $446.5 million dollar spending plan is the second submitted by the mayor. The Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority rejected his first budget because it contained the 1% tax on college tuition. The Board said the tax was of questionable legality. The Ravenstahl Administration went back to the drawing board and found cuts and revenue enhancements that covered the $16 million hole left by the removal of the tax. To fill the hole the budget calls for additional personnel cost savings that Budget Director Scott Kunka was unable to enumerate for inquisitive council members. He says the savings will be found through “strategic vacancies”, which he says will involve directors reevaluating staffing needs based on demands placed on the department. He says, "We're going to have to make decisions on the fly, so to speak, as we move forward throughout the year. Try to get the departments to be able to figure out what is the composition within the department… what do they need to perform the mission. "
The budget also relies on collection of delinquent taxes and savings from the use of a system-wide software program aimed at better managing the city’s assets and budget. The county is expected to use the same system that was requested by the ICA. The mayor also used $4 million dollars that had been earmarked to pay down the city’s debt. In approving the budget this week the ICA told the mayor that those should be the last dollars used to keep the budget in balance. Kunka says that should not be a problem. The debt service payments come in two flights. The first comes right after property taxes are due so Kunka says here will be no problem making that payment. The second round comes in September and the city will have a much clearer picture of incomes and revenues by the 9th month of the year. Kunka would not speculate how any additional revenues from a PILOT agreement with the city’s universities would be used. The council is expected to take a final vote Monday.