Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Council Holds Bills to Increase Capital Budget Input

Pittsburgh City Council debated and then held off on voting today on two pieces of legislation that are aimed at giving the public more input on the city’s capital budget. The measures set up a process by which the public would be able to comment on a 5-year capital spending plan and the annual capital budget. In years past the mayor’s office has submitted 5-year plans but that has gone by the wayside in recent years. Under the ordinances, four hearings will be held on the capital budget. Those are above and beyond any hearings held on the rest of the budget. A citizens advisory committee would also be created. That committee would keep an eye how funds from the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development are spent. The committee will also make sure the funds are used as intended and that they are used as quickly as possible. City Councilmember Doug Shields says with the implementation of the ICA and Act 47 boards, the council has had very limited input into the budget and public comment on the capital budget has also waned. Bill sponsor Ricky Burgess says he would like to work on a few more details in the bill and then hold a public hearing and post agenda meeting on the issue. The new requirements would go into effect in 2011 with comment being made on the 2012 budget. Both measures were put on hold until after the summer recess.

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