Thursday, March 31, 2011

ICA Faces He Said - She Said on City Budget

The members of the Pittsburgh Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority sat looking a bit befuddled this afternoon as City Councilman Bill Peduto read to them a letter he wrote to the mayor regarding parking revenue. The ICA requested that City Council Finance Committee Chairman Bill Peduto come before the board to explain why the city’s budget was sliding out of balance.

The mayor had recently brought up the issue of less than expected payments from the Pittsburgh Parking Authority. The money is expected to help make payments to the city’s pension fund. Peduto laid the issue squarely at the feet of the Parking Authority Board, which he says is the only body that can raise parking rates and install new parking meters as is required. Peduto says the budget does not anticipate the $1.3 million in payments in lieu of Taxes (PILOT) until the 4th quarter. The idea was to allow the Authority time to get the new rate structure in place and install new parking meters capable of collecting the higher charges.

During the pension and parking debate last year, the council set a new parking rate schedule that Peduto says more than covers the increased PILOT. “There is an additional amount that goes directly to the Parking Authority so they can afford things like maintenance and improvements. It’s not as if we are just raising the rates or proposing to raise the rate just to break neutral,” says Peduto.

Peduto says the board should act quickly so it can bring in much more than the 1.3 million anticipated.

At the same time, Ravenstahl Administration Budget Director and Parking Authority Chair Scott Kunka says the Authority cannot simple act on numbers that were part of an ongoing debate in council. “A prime architect of the council plan, Councilwomen Rudiak, is a member of the Parking Authority, now we’ve had three meetings already this year and she has not once brought this mater up to the Parking Authority Board,” says Kunka. Kunka says they need to hear directly from the council what the proposed rate structure should be.

ICA Board Chair Barbara McNees says, “ We are going to have to do some analysis on this, see where everybody is on this, talk to [Peduto] talk to the mayor and see where the division of responsibilities lie.” It is not the ICA’s job to determine parking rates but it is responsible for making sure that the budget stays in balance. “The budget as passed depends on the implementation of some of this,” says McNees, “If that s not going to occur, we don’t want a budget that’s out of balance… so those are the questions we need to ask.”

Download a copy of the letter Councilman Peduto read into the ICA record here.

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