On Tuesday, December 20th, City Council passed a $539 Million dollar operating and a $74 Million dollar capital budget. This action, along with a passage of the Five Year Plan, assures a fiscally responsible path that addresses our aging infrastructure and provides the staffing and resources to meet our ever growing challenges through the end of this decade. It is important to note that thebalanced budget and five year plan were achieved while holding the line on taxes.
This year’s budget process ended with only a few amendments from Council. This is clearly a result of our cooperative efforts with the Administration and evidence that our capital budget ordinance passed by Council in 2014, is working.
The 2017 Budget amended and passed by Council provides funding for a 900+ member police force as wellfully funded fire bureau and more staffing for emergency medics and building inspectors; a $72 million dollar commitment to the pension which nearly meets the benefit expenses of the pension fund without depending on the investment return, allowing the principle to grow; a renewed commitment to the summer youth program; investments in performance measures that will create additional efficiencies and savings; and a commission and commitment to gender equity throughout our city.
The 2017 capital budget provides over $74 Million for: paving over 60 miles of streets; the beginning of implementation of our facilities optimization plan to make informed investment into City firehouses, police stations, public works and parks land and buildings, providing safe, quality spaces for employees and citizens to enjoy and be proud of.
While we continue to meet the challenges in this budget many more lie ahead. The passage of the Affordable Housing ordinance has tasked the City with finding innovative budgetary solutions to fund a program that will address an affordable housing deficit. We will continue to work to find ways to make this city more hospitable to women and children. And additionally, although we have begun to fund our pension in a more aggressive manner we are still not out of the woods yet as wages increase and markets become more volatile. Police relations and public safety technology will also need adequate funds for us to stay ahead of the curve.
I have confidence in this Council, the Mayor and our city workforce that we will stand up and meet these challenges in the coming year.
I would like to thank each of my fellow Council members for their dedication as well as Mayor Bill Peduto.
On January 5, 2016, Councilwoman Rudiak hosted the Hilltop Youth Summit at Pittsburgh Carrick High School with Dr. Jamil Bey of PGH Works. Coro Fellow, Alyson Shaw presented the findings of a nine-week inventory of youth serving programs in District 4 neighborhood and the Hilltop. Community members and nonprofit organizations from District 4 and across the City of Pittsburgh were in attendance.
Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak introduced legislation requiring City employees to make documents-- everything from public notices, to forms, the City website, and more-- easier to read, recognize, and understand. The bill calls for the adoption of "Plain Language" principles, which means that writing is clear, concise, well-organized, and is appropriate for the intended audience.
“The private sector has been using plain language for decades. If Nike’s advertisements looked like our public notices for zoning hearings, nobody would ever buy shoes. In this case, the ‘way we’ve always done it’ is simply not good enough. It’s time we start selling people on civic engagement-- making it easier for people to be informed and get involved.” -- Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak
On Tuesday, January 27th, 2015, Councilwoman Rudiak hosted a press conference, public hearing, and post-agenda on her proposed bill to provide City employees with 6 weeks of paid parental leave for new moms and dads in the case of birth, adoption, or fostering a child. You can read her full remarks here.
Today, the Act 47 Recovery Coordinators’ draft 5-year plan for the City of Pittsburgh’s financial outlook was introduced to City Council for deliberation.
Right now, the draft plan is just that—a draft. Over the next month, City Council will review and debate the independent analysis and will vote on a set of recommendations. Passing this plan only means we have work to do; the real deadline is the end of the year when the budget has to be passed. These recommendations will guide the work required of the Mayor and Council over the next six months to ensure that the City’s 2015 Capital and Operating budgets deliver the service, amenities, and infrastructure City residents deserve.
In the last few weeks, our office has received calls and emails from constituents with some incorrect information about the possible upcoming development in the municipality of Mt. Lebanon. The site was home to the Depaul Institute before they moved to Shadyside in 2002 and later to the Bradley Center until their move to Robinson Twp. in 2007. The area is located at the end of Castlegate Ave. on the Mt. Lebanon side of Dorchester Ave. Currently; the existing buildings are blighted with broken windows and graffiti. I want to share with you the facts that our office has requested and received from the developers about the proposed development, which would include a senior living facility and upscale housing. We have also included links below of the developers’ previous projects which we encourage residents to take a look at.
Today, Mayor Bill Peduto and I introduced a piece of legislation that would open up financial and operational data that the City maintains internally. Right now, paving schedules, building permits, property maintenance citations, and similar data are kept internal and private. My comprehensive Open Data ordinance would proactively release information to the public, with careful consideration to remove any confidential and personal information. Nineteen other American cities and counties have found that open data policies encourage innovation, with software and app developers inventing useful tools that help the public--and government itself--tackle difficult problems, like crime trends or snow removal, more effectively.
As District 4 sees its selection of streets milled and paved this season, it is important to keep in mind some of the realities that we are faced with: rising costs, resources stretched thin, and an ever-growing list of needs. My staff put together this quick guide to the ins and outs of paving in the City. Take a look!
In September's newsletter, I mentioned the fact that most, if not all, of District 4 has been built over top of old coal mines. Take a look at this map to see for yourself. Because of this, subsidence, which can cause sink holes and potentially damage house foundations, is always a potential risk. It's important for South Pittsburghers to consider acquiring mine subsidence insurance. For more information, log onto the state's DEP mine subsidence website. You can also speak to a DEP expert to find out about your risk and available insurance by calling (1-800) 922-1678 during normal business hours. Protect yourself!
“To call Senate Bill 975 ‘consumer protection’ is outrageously false. This bill will legalize loan terms that are currently illegal under state law, trapping working people into an endless loop of borrowing and reborrowing at exorbitant rates. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, the message is clear: state legislators need to stand up for the financial health of our communities--not the profit-driven interests of out-of-state corporations.”
PennDOT District 11 has announced that the long-awaited reconstruction of the intersection at Rt. 51 and Rt. 88 will begin in June and continue through November 2015. PennDOT plans to maintain one lane of traffic in each direction on Rt. 51. Any temporary detours will be posted. Please feel free to give us a call if you have any questions!
Yesterday, I passed a Will of Council condemning the state legislature's attempt to transfer the power to determine non-profit status to the state. Today, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl is expected to announce that the City will challenge UPMC's non-profit, tax-exempt status. Here's my take.
The City is currently examining its Responsible Hospitality program, particularly in major entertainment destinations such as the South Side, Lawrenceville, Downtown, and Oakland. In December, we received a draft of the plan. This is a presentation that my office put together to summarize the major points of the plan for those that are interested.
Councilwoman Rudiak Calls on Governor for Robust Transportation Funding
Councilwoman Rudiak joined with transportation advocates, labor leaders, and religious activists today, introducing a Will of Council calling on Governor Corbett to produce a strong and sustainable plan to fund transportation in the region-- both infrastructure like roads and bridges, and public transportation. The Will of Council passed unanimously.
Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak cited what she called "a frightening lack of investment in our roads and bridges and buses and rail cars ... our mass transit system has suffered from years of crises and cuts and last-ditch rescues. We need a comprehensive transportation agenda that keeps Pennsylvania moving." --Advocates push Corbett, legislators to better fund public transportation- Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Pennsylvania has been shirking its responsibility for upkeep of its infrastructure, according to Pittsburgh City Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak.