City Council seems eager to act on the new financial plan put forth by Pittsburgh’s state-appointed recovery team. The question is, will council members act the right way?
It was state oversight and the initial five-year plan that enabled city government to step back from the brink of bankruptcy in 2004 by making hard choices that curbed spending and put the city on the road to stability. But the road is long and Pittsburgh’s debt still threatens to drag it under.
Now it’s time for city officials to consider the next five-year plan — another blueprint of limits and sacrifices that balances the city’s needs with what it can afford. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said he is "largely in agreement with the Act 47 plan," but the nine-member council is anything but.
No doubt some members are channeling the discontent of city employee unions, whose members’ pay and benefits were squeezed by the whole Act 47 distressed-city process. The new fiscal plan acknowledges the belt-tightening done by city workers and provides enough money for signing bonuses of $1,000 in the first year and raises of 2 percent to 3 percent through 2014.
But some council members say this provision and others are unacceptable. We’d like to know how they expect Pittsburgh to afford more.
This recovery plan can be tweaked, but wholesale changes will be made at the city’s peril.