Thursday, March 3, 2011

Council, Mayor Debate Action on Financial System

City officials debated the future of Pittsburgh’s outdated financial data system in Council Chambers today, with much of the discussion hinging on the receipt of state funds.

Everyone agrees that Pittsburgh’s PeopleSoft financial system has been outdated for as long as ten years, but there is no consensus on how to replace that system.

One option is for the city to merge its system with Allegheny County’s. Controller Michael Lamb says that deal would cost about $5 million up front, but the administration estimates an immediate $8 million plus $4 million in annual fees.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl says Pittsburgh should pursue a less expensive choice if the city doesn’t receive $9 million from the state, which has been pending since the 2008 sale of the Municipal Courts Building.

Ravenstahl says if the city doesn’t receive that money, he’d prefer to issue a request for cheaper proposals.

“Is that going to take longer? Of course it is. The other alternative would be to identify the $8 million needed now, the additional $4 million over the next 5 years in annual costs, and identify that $12-13 million in the budget, and move along, paying for this out of city taxpayers’ pockets,” says Ravenstahl.

Councilwoman Theresa Smith says regardless of state funding, the city should pursue the cheapest option it can, rather than the county deal.

Lamb says he signed a 2008 contract with the County to merge systems, but also that it was contingent on the receipt of $9 million from the state, which hasn’t happened yet.

“There’s obviously been a change in administrations in Harrisburg, and they’re examining everything. I’ve yet to hear anything other than that money is coming through, but I do have the same concerns that the mayor and his administration have, in that ‘Why don’t we have it yet?’ because it’s been years,” says Lamb.

The mayor urged council to join him in requesting the $9 million from state government.

No comments: