Statement by Mayor William Peduto to Pittsburgh City Council, May 13, 2014:
"Members of council, and the people of Pittsburgh:
Like you, I am proud of our city. We knew before the rest the world the greatness that exists here, as well as the future opportunities, and it is a pleasure to revel in that. But when you look closer, we all know it is fleeting.
Tonight the city’s Act 47 coordinators will release the latest long-term look at the city’s finances, and our preliminary discussions with them on creating a 5-year budget indicate we are facing years of devastating budget shortfalls. Our average $20 million budget gap is actually $60 million annually including the real costs before us.
Anyone can see on a daily basis how the infrastructure that makes our city special is disintegrating. Everyone looks at our streets, more than half of which are rotting, but they are just one piece of the problem. Our facilities are falling apart too. Our vehicles malfunction and our bridges decay. Our parks, our playgrounds and our urban forest are crying out for help that we can’t afford to give them.
Altogether this will make our dream of attracting new businesses and residents to our great city -- which after so much hard work is finally within our grasp -- disappear if we do not finally face up to reality.
You also know that part of what makes Pittsburgh great is we don’t run away from our problems. We confront them.
We don’t get federal bailouts like bigger cities -- we do it ourselves, and that resiliency is a part of us.
If we want to solve the real problems in this city, it is up to us, and us alone. We have to tackle our pensions, our debt, and our capital needs -- now. Everyone in the city has to find the courage to sign on to a plan to fix them together, and to stop passing these problems on -- as we have for years and years in the past -- to our children instead.
If we don’t address these issues -- for real -- over these next five to ten years we’re going to lose the very things that make Pittsburgh special. We won’t be able to patch up our assets anymore -- they will gone. The people we have worked so hard to attract, and the children we’re working so hard to keep at home, will once again be leaving us.
Fixing it isn’t going to be easy. The last time I stood here addressing you -- when I was saying farewell to Linda Johnson Wasler after her three decades with the city -- there were tears. I was here too 10 years years ago when we took the toughest vote in modern Pittsburgh history to write our first Act 47 recovery plan, and there was anger.
Now I’m standing here again -- with you -- to write the last one.
This is a great challenge but also an opportunity -- not only to fix the deep problems crippling us, but also to be heard. Previous administrations didn’t listen. They said, in top-down fashion, how our budgets would be solved and how they will be adopted. No longer.
My administration is currently working with our fiscal overseers on ways to address these giant budget shortfalls but we are far from making any conclusions. I need the city’s help.
As I’ve already showed my first months in office, I will listen to all ideas -- from council members, from residents, and from businesses across the city. We are going to turn the pyramid upside down so every idea for saving this city’s budget, and its future, gets filtered down to the top of my desk next door.
I know this is going to be hard. If we are going to leave the next people of Pittsburgh something great -- something like our grandparents left for us -- we’re going to have to do something great for them.
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
City of Pittsburgh
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