Thursday, March 17, 2011

City/County Finance Merger Passes Preliminary Vote

Pittsburgh Council has given tentative approval to a plan that would merge the city’s financial database system with Allegheny County’s.

Council’s support for the $5 million merger is unanimous, but Mayor Luke Ravenstahl says he’ll only agree to the plan if the state gives Pittsburgh $9 million for the sale of the Municipal Courts Building. Ravenstahl says the city should also seek cheaper proposals.

Councilman Bill Peduto argues while the new financial system might bring up-front costs, it will save Pittsburgh money in the long run.

Peduto says the mayor’s arguments are “red herrings” and he should work instead on a backup plan if the state money doesn’t come through.

Peduto, the Finance Chairman, also called for a series of April meetings to map Pittsburgh’s financial plans.

“Short-term: get all these issues resolved. Middle-term: get through the next six years and have a capital budget, be able to pay the pension costs, be able to pay the debt, the legacy costs,” says Peduto. “And then look long-term at a vision of where the city needs to be.”

Peduto says if the city manages its finances well, it should be able to shed state oversight in six or seven years.

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