Thursday, June 16, 2011

ICA, City Prepare for Financial Conversion

Pittsburgh is getting money to convert its financial record-keeping system to a new, digital format that it will share with Allegheny County.

The Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, which is appointed by the state to oversee the city's finances, will hire a financial consultant to "clean up" all of Pittsburgh's open accounts before the switch.

ICA Executive Director Henry Sciortino says that means looking back through decades worth of city-funded projects, to see if money is left over.

"There are enterprise funds, there are a variety of trust funds that exist that have been created over the years for special projects, for parks, for recreation services, for the purchase of specific equipment," says Sciortino. "All of those things have a separate life."

Sciortino says the end balance can't be in the red, because if a project had ended up short of cash, the city would have had to put more funding into it. But he says in the current system, there's no method for tracking unspent dollars.

The result will be a clearer picture of Pittsburgh's finances, which should help streamline budget talks in the future. Sciortino says the city, the county, and local authorities should all be running their finances by the state-recommended standard.

The executive director says closing out all of the city's stagnant accounts will take time, so he hopes to fast-track the process beginning this July. He says the ICA wants to bring together the city's administration, Council, Controller, Act 47, and the ICA consultant to discuss the conversion process in a few weeks.

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