News Column

Pittsburgh receives $5.6 million in gambling money

February 11, 2014

By Bob Bauder, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review



Feb. 11--One of Pittsburgh's two state-appointed financial overseers on Tuesday released about $5.6 million in state gambling revenue to the city.

Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority board members said $4.5 million must go to the city's pension system, $500,000 to retirees' health care coverage and $300,000 each to workers' compensation claims and an upgrade of the city's financial management software.

"Legacy cost is a No. 1 priority for us," said ICA Chairman Nick Varischetti.

The ICA controls the city's $10 million share of state gambling revenue. The $5.6 million payment was the final one due Pittsburgh from 2013.

Pittsburgh has about 60 percent of the cash needed to cover about $1 billion owed current and future retirees. The ICA and Controller Michael Lamb have urged city officials to ante more each year.

ICA members also signed off on Mayor Bill Peduto's revised 2014 million budget, which includes taking $7.1 million from cash reserves to help pay for the mayor's early retirement plan for up to 176 employees.

The budget would, among other things, increase the salary for public safety director from $105,000 to $125,000 and reduce that of the police chief from $115,000 to $109,000.

The $480 million budget will increase by $7.1 million under changes City Council approved earlier Tuesday.

Varischetti said ICA staff worked closely with city officials on the budget.

"We felt comfortable with the budget they presented to us," he said.

Peduto wants to offer 176 nonunion employees up to one year's salary for retiring early during his transition to office. His administration has estimated the buyout would cost about $8.8 million if everyone accepts. The mayor has said he would offset the cost by eliminating 30 percent of the jobs.

Talent City, an initiative of Pittsburgh's foundation community to fill key positions in the administration, has recommended five candidates for public safety director, including current Director Michael Huss. Peduto, however, recently asked Talent City to seek new applicants.

Bob Bauder is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-765-2312 or bbauder@tribweb.com.

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Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (PA)


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