Monday, April 18, 2011

Council Looks to Liberate $0.7 Mill

A budget fight between a few Pittsburgh City Council members and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl could boil down to semantics. Councilman Bill Peduto, who is also the Council Finance Committee Chairman, has introduced a bill that he thinks will free up for future capital projects about $700,000 locked in a G20 account. However, the mayor’s budget office says the money does not exist.

Peduto says the council encumbered $12.8 million to pay for the Pittsburgh G20 Summit in September of 2009 but it only spent $12.1 million. Peduto says that leftover money could be used elsewhere. His bill would close out the account and move the funds back into the capital budget. The move seems to stem from the administration’s reluctance to pay for some capital projects saying there is not enough money in the account.

“They are basically looking at over the past 15 years all the different projects that have come through. Some of them have already been completed and there are funds leftover,” says Peduto. “If you account for all of those, of course there is no money.” The administration has said that there is $66 million in capital projects waiting for money and just $28 million in the bank.

Peduto says it is time to start clearing the city’s books before it switches over to a new accounting system later this year.

The administration agrees with the idea of the bill but differs with Peduto when it comes to the impact the bill will have. The Budget and Finance Department says it is good book keeping to clear out old projects but it feels the action will not actually move any money.

Peduto says this is just the first of several bills like this that he will be introducing in the coming months. “We need to start getting things like this out and the G20 is a very easy one for people to understand because it was recent, it is over, it was an event that occurred and for the past couple of years now we have not been paying any bills yet we still have about $700,000 left in that account.”

The bill will come up for debate Wednesday.

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