News Column

Latest Pittsburgh financial recovery plan suggests real estate tax, parking fee increases

May 30, 2014

By Melissa Daniels, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

May 30--Pittsburgh's financial recovery team released a five-year road map to shore up the city's finances Friday that includes an option to increase the real estate tax rate in 2015 to compensation for revenue lost in a rate reduction tied to Allegheny County's property reassessment.

Another proposal includes raising rates drivers pay at Pittsburgh Parking Authority garages and parking lots to generate money for the city.

The Act 47 plan update, prepared by coordinators at Public Financial Management in Philadelphia and Downtown law firm Eckert Seamans, recommends the changes to help the city achieve five financial objectives: eliminate an operating deficit, increase its contributions to lagging employee pension funds, spend more on capital improvements such as road improvements, reduce the city's debt burden and maintain a fund balance that has 10 percent of revenue.

The plan shows that the city faces deficits ranging from $8.9 million to $14.6 million a year, and a shrinking fund balance. That's without making any changes to its operating budget.

In addition to raising the real estate tax and parking fee rates, the coordinators recommend the city "seek higher annual contributions" from tax-exempt properties owned by nonprofit organizations.

Pittsburgh has been in Act 47, the state oversight program intended to assist financially distressed municipalities, since late 2003. This is the third five-year plan for the city, and the overseers say they think it could be the last.

The plan is a starting point. It would require approval from Pittsburgh City Council and will likely involve weeks of discussions and public hearings with council members and Mayor Bill Peduto.

"Implementing the initiatives will help the city achieve the five primary objectives of this amended recovery plan and the ultimate objective of any recovery plan to ensure the city's long term fiscal recovery and exit from commonwealth oversight," the plan states.


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Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (PA)

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