Thursday, October 28, 2010
The Pittsburgh Parking Authority Board has put the breaks on City Council’s plans to fund the pension program by selling its parking assets. By a 3-2 vote, the board rejected a proposal by Pittsburgh City Councilwoman and board member Natalia Rudiak that would have sent out a request for proposal to get bids to review the viability of a $220 million bond issuance. Specifically, the RFP would have asked for bids to appraise the assets, hire a consultant to look at what rates could be charged, hire a financial advisor to review the viability of the bond and hire bond council to look at the tax status of such a bond. Some members of council and the Pittsburgh Controller believe it would be a tax exempt bond but the mayor’s office disagrees. The City Council was hoping the Parking Authority would approve the proposal and then eventually let the bond and purchase a city owned garage, 5 surface lots and miles of parking meters. Rudiak reminded board members that they were only voting for an RFP, not to purchase the assets. Board member and City Finance Director Scott Kunka called that a “ruse” and voted no. Christopher D’Addario followed suit and board member Linda Judson voted no saying she did not think the Parking authority was where such a review process should begin. Judson says council could do the work but she added that if the city council were to hire consultants she hopes the board would have input into the review process. Natalia Rudiak says the idea is not dead and she will return to council members to look at other options. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl says he is drawing up a budget that assumes the pension will be taken over by the state. During the public comment portion of the meeting Mayor Ravenstahl told the board that he would not support any plan that put the city further into debt. “It is irresponsible to open a new credit card to pay for an old credit card,” says Ravenstahl. He says the vote was a waste of time.