Thursday, March 18, 2010

Allegheny Institute: Pittsburgh Worse Than Benchmark

The Allegheny Institute says while Pittsburgh is closing the gap between an amalgamated “benchmark city”, it is not move fast enough. The institute gathered tax, spending, staffing and debt numbers for Salt Lake City, UT, Columbus, OH, Omaha, NE and Charlotte, NC. Those numbers were then averaged to create the benchmark. Compared to the benchmark, Pittsburgh spends 50% more on a per capita basis. $1,440 compared to $961. Allegheny Institute Senior Policy analyst Eric Montrati says the higher numbers come from having more employees per 1,000 residents and higher debt, pension and workers comp cost than the benchmark. Total income for Pittsburgh came in 50% higher but taxes were 56% higher than the benchmark ($1,113 vs. $715). The difference was made up through other revenue streams such as state funding and fees where Pittsburgh collected $327 per resident compared to $251 for the benchmark city. Montarti says the city has made some progress since the first time the institute did the study in 2004. He says Pittsburgh is lowering debt and has cut the number of fire fighters. However, Montarti says the city has not done enough. He says the act 47 team and ICA board have missed an opportunity to really clampdown on spending and find solutions to the pension problem. Per 1,000 residents Pittsburgh has 3.6 police employees and 2.1 fire employees. That compares to 2.9 and 1.8 for the benchmark city. Per capita net bond debt for Pittsburgh came in 173% higher than the benchmark ($2,176 vs. $797) and per capita workers’ comp payments were 331% higher ($69 vs. $16). The entire study can be found online.

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