Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Pittsburgh council approved a preliminary plan today that would sell the city's parking assets to the Parking Authority for $220 million, float a 30 year bond to buy those assets and increase parking fees to pay down the debt. Under the plan, that payment would lift the city's pension fund to the 50% funded level; currently it hovers below the 30% funded mark. The 50% level means state takeover would no longer be mandatory. But a number of question marks remain. The Parking Authority still has to approve the deal and councilwoman Natalia Rudiak, who also serves on the Authority's Board, plans to introduce legislation to the Authority next week. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl would also have to approve the deal and he has said he's not interested in allowing the city to take on any more debt. Yet another scenario would allow the city to bring the pension fund to 50% percent funded by selling assets to the Parking Authority and then turning the fund over to state control voluntarily. Everyone is still waiting on the Pennsylvania Municipal Retirement System to give hard numbers on how much the city would have to pay into the pension fund annually to bring it to the fully funded level. Council also discussed the need improve the technology used at meters and garages and in collection to move the city's parking into the 21st century. Councilman Ricky Burgess--who favored he mayor's plan to privatize parking assets and a voluntary take over by the state--was the lone no vote on all of the parking/pension legislation.