Monday, November 09, 2009

The Mayor's budget

I have sort of mastered Twitter, in terms of being able to send tweets from my phone, and far more important to me, being able to receive tweets on my phone. I am following Bill Peduto's Reform Pittsburgh Now, Pat Dowd and Bob Mayo (I guess I should follow Jon Delano as well).

Bob Mayo was at today’s Council session where the Mayor presented his budget for next year (funny how it follows the election, instead of coming before it). Mayo tweeted furiously from this session. He wondered right away about the money being raised from local universities. Is it a fee or a tax (and he asked us if we know why that matters)? The Mayor is using the word tax, which brings up the question whether we are permitted to levy this tax (the legislature strictly controls what cities are allowed to tax). So there is the possibility of a lawsuit or an act of the State Legislature in our future. The Mayor also talked about the $200 from parking garage, lot and meter leases. I don’t know if he acknowledged existing parking authority debt, or what. Finally, he said if the budget goes through, he will ask the Governor to lift our Act 47 status.

(grunt noise)

It never fails, the Mayor wins a victory and feels he can take dangerous new steps. Now, I happen to work for a University, but I don’t think we will be too hurt by this. However, I do wonder where charges for UPMC and Highmark are in this. I think that they should share the pain (and personally I would leave the rest of the non-profits alone, I think they are struggling enough particularly right now).

If we drop out of Act 47, the public safety unions will again be able to use arbitration, which may hurt the City majorly down the road. Now, I will wait and see the analysis of others before I push the panic button over balloon debt payments or increased health care costs. But keep those in mind.

1 comment:

n'at said...

Who's to say definitively that these times for UPMC and Highmark aren't the peak of their existence, both, in profits and labor? If, for certain, our Ed's and Med's will continue at modest growth through the out years, then would we also expect continued regional growth - beyond the reach of city and county taxes?

I believe the City has more to lose overall, than the estimated gain in revenues. What leverage does the City now have with any future business with our Ed's and Med's?

This will ultimately lead to another Pittsburgh industry whose relationship to the city is by name only.