Mayor Ed Gainey's 2023 Budget Address
Mayor Ed Gainey's 2023 Budget Address, as prepared:
Good morning and thank you City Council President Theresa Kail-Smith, Finance Chair Councilman Lavelle, and the entire city council.
Over the past 10 and a half months my administration has been working hard each and every day to serve the people.
We have made a commitment to a learning culture in every department and that we would do all we can to make our great city into the safest city in America, the most welcome city in America, and a city where everyone who lives here or works here can thrive.
I stand before you today to say that the City of Pittsburgh is resilient, strong, and ready to face the challenges ahead.
I know we can meet those challenges and rise above them because in our first year in office I have seen us do it time and time again.
This is the story of Pittsburgh – a city that has reinvented itself – a city of resilience, of overcoming the impossible. A city filled with people who will pick each other up and care for one another in times of great need.
A city whose steel built our country, whose workers organized together to build an American middle class and now we are building the tech that is going to return America to the moon.
We might be a city of 90 different neighborhoods, but we are ONE city, ONE community, and together we can accomplish anything.
This budget we have prepared – is balanced, and invests in restoring core government services for our residents.
Our 5 year projections on these investments we make today are not just investments we can afford – but that they are investments that will keep us financially solvent well into the future.
We have begun the process of creating a new foundation that will benefit our city for generations to come.
We are thankful for the hard work of our predecessors who brought us out of Act 47 in order to return Pittsburgh to the Global city it once was.
When I entered office, I made a promise to keep transparency and engagement at the forefront of our Administration.
I am proud to say that I believe this budget process has accomplished that commitment.
We are looking forward to continue our transparency work with our Department of Innovation and Performance to publish an annual data governance report for the city – with new open data sets so residents can see our metrics of success.
This year, the Office of Budget and Management – with help from the Neighborhood Services team and the Department of Innovation and Performance – hosted 10 public meetings, utilized an online survey and other digital tools to capture opinions and ideas for city projects from the public.
The information and feedback we obtained during this process was invaluable. These meetings informed the final budget you see before you today.
We had historic engagement in our budget process, including a 500% increase in the utilization of our online surveys through our EngagePGH platform.
Residents were clear in their priorities for our capital budget and this is the feedback we received:
Infrastructure was the number one priority. This was also reflected in the survey that was distributed with more than 400 requests for Complete Streets projects.
With the collapse of the Fern Hollow Bridge less than 30 days into entering office, my Administration learned firsthand the critical investment that was needed for our city’s infrastructure.
Residents also prioritized the environment, housing, physical mobility, and equity.
I’m proud to say that the budget before you reflects a significant investment in these areas.
Since the beginning of my term I have spent a lot of time listening to our residents, civic leaders, and city employees about how they see our city and our shared values.
I tasked my staff and my department directors to review their budgets and find ways to enhance our city’s safety that make us more welcoming and find investments to help our citizens thrive.
When we invest in rebuilding our city’s critical infrastructure, we are investing in making sure that our neighborhoods are safe.
We are proposing the creation of a new bridge maintenance unit to care for the bridges that we already have, as well as a new unit that will allow us to rapidly develop plans to rehabilitate our bridges or design new ones when we need them.
We also engaged in a review of our city-owned bridges, the report of our Bridge Asset Management Program is being finalized this week and will be released to the public shortly after.
We know that climate change is having a growing impact on our city – the increase in heavier rainstorms is leading to more frequent landslides – and that is why we are investing in creating a new Walls and Slopes unit within the Department of Mobility and Infrastructure so we can be proactive in our work in keeping our neighbors safe.
Our Department of Mobility and Infrastructure has taken on the responsibility of keeping our citizens safe as they drive, walk, and bike to work and school each day.
Next year they plan to continue this great work with more traffic calming projects, more smart intersection designs, and making sure our bridges are maintained and cared for.
Our budget is both an investment in improving core city services and improving the efficiency of local government – and we firmly believe that this leads to a safer city for all of us.
We are investing an additional $4 million in staffing and equipment in the Department of Public works to dramatically increase our capacity to respond to snow storms, and overcome a backlog of maintenance of vacant lots and public spaces in the summer.
This year DPW has piloted neighborhood blight reduction techniques in underserved neighborhoods across our city.
This includes expanding litter can locations, utilizing data to better understand best litter collection strategies, and reconstructing sidewalks on city-owned lots.
As you all know Public Safety has been one of our most important issues we have taken on as an administration.
Since coming into office I have met with rank-and-file officers from every public safety zone in the city.
We are proud of the fact that we are moving forward with the expansion of our Reach Out on the Streets (ROOTS) program with the Office of Community Health and Safety and the Office of Violence Prevention to bring needed services and violence interventions into every public safety zone in the city.
Over the past several weeks we have been engaged in a robust community conversation around what values and qualities we want in our next chief of Police. Soon will engage in a local and national search to find the next leader of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police.
And next year will mark the first new classes of police recruits Pittsburgh has seen in over two years – a critical step to helping us build out a police department that looks like our city.
I would like to thank the officers that shared with us their ideas for the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police. Your ideas helped inform our decision around changing the credit requirements for the academy.
We are investing in new swift water rescue equipment to be prepared for flooding events, and upgrading our 10-year-old self-contained breathing apparatus in order to protect the lives of our Fire, EMS, and other first responders who work in hazardous conditions.
Thank you to all of our first responders – I will never forget the day that Fern Hollow happened and how you created a human chain in order to care for those who were injured. Thank you for your dedicated service.
This budget reinforces our commitment to making Pittsburgh the safest city in America, and that means keeping the people who work for the city safe as well.
Earlier this year we launched a new pilot program to document in real time the safety concerns our frontline workers have – and working with them to provide real time solutions to critical safety incidents in order to keep them safe at work.
This new real time safety system program has been rolled out in DPW and is currently being implemented in Permits Licenses and Inspections.
We are allocating funding for a new investigator in the Office of Municipal Investigations who will be focused on building a safe and welcoming workplace for City employees by investigating allegations of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation.
Celebrating the diversity of our great city is key to making sure that Pittsburgh is welcoming and open to business for everyone.
Removing barriers to those who wish to do business with city government is critical to making a thriving city.
To that end we are funding a new disparity study in order to update, refine, and expand the City’s goals for inclusion of MWBE venders in our City procurement practices.
This is the first time this is happening in over 20 years.
Our Office of Business Diversity has exceeded their yearly goals for their work.
In one session alone signed up 60 new diverse small businesses to do business with the City of Pittsburgh.
Creating these opportunities for our small diverse businesses means more jobs for our residents and new opportunities for the growth of our local economy.
If we want to create lasting change for our community than we need to start by ensuring that there is a seat at the table for communities who have been ignored for far too long to guide us in our priorities.
When we read the gender equity report we knew that we needed to do more to lift up Black women in Pittsburgh.
This is why we launched our Black Women’s Vision for Quality of Life Initiative.
This work is centered on the lived experiences, expertise, and the visions of Black women across the City of Pittsburgh.
We should not be making policy decisions that are about Black women, without having Black women at the table guiding us.
This work is about making long term equitable investments that improve the lives of all Black women in Pittsburgh – and not just a short term pot of money that would serve a small fraction of them.
We want this table of Black women leaders to work with us and hold us accountable as partners to create systemic change so every Black woman in our city can thrive.
I’m proud of the fact that I have put together the most diverse administration in the history of our great City – more voices from impacted communities means we are better able to serve all of Pittsburgh.
Equity is fundamental to being a welcoming city, and should be a core value for all 3300 plus city workers every day. It cannot be the role or work of one person or one office.
Bringing Government to the people is one of the priorities for our Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs – this year they have been bringing government to the people while training over 800 officers on cross cultural competency.
Having equitable access to open green spaces, parks, and recreation opportunities is one of the many ways to make our city more welcoming for everyone.
We also need to do the work of caring for our Parks and we are making robust investments in obtaining the tools and resources to care for them while embarking on new projects for parks all across Pittsburgh.
Like many departments in our City the Parks and Recreation department is undergoing a transformation in order to best serve our city.
This reorganization into 4 program areas will help focus our work and bring efficiency to these critical city services.
It also means transferring the maintenance of our city pools to create one integrated aquatics team.
We are proposing a new position in our CitiParks department in order to provide new opportunities for organized sports for our children.
Giving our children access to new opportunities for organized sports and programs is a critical tool in our Plan for Peace.
We also recognize that our front-line CitiParks staff are an invaluable community asset and resource. We are investing in them by proposing increases to their salaries, as currently they are among the lowest paid members of our workforce.
A thriving Pittsburgh means creating new opportunities for people to have good-paying jobs, access to new pathways to prosperity, and affordable homes to live in.
We are also looking to propose a new bond in order to develop more affordable housing for people in our great city.
Access to fresh food in every neighborhood in Pittsburgh is a priority for our administration.
We are proposing $3 million in seed money to begin to address food insecurity so we can look for ways we can scale up our existing programs to serve more people.
When we invest in creating a strong workforce development pipeline that connects PPS students to jobs across every sector in our economy we invest in a stronger more robust Pittsburgh for businesses.
We are preparing the future leaders of our city with our new Pathways to Prosperity program with PPS and are requesting new funding for PPS students to have paid internships through our Prepare to Prosper initiative launched earlier this year.
We also launched a new Youth Civic Leadership Academy where Pittsburgh Public Schools students right now are learning about their local government, while earning college credits and earning a small stipend to further their financial empowerment education.
This work would not have been possible without the partnership with Pittsburgh Public Schools, The President of the Heinz History Museum Andrew Masich, Executive Director of Youth Enrichment Services – Dr. Dennis Jones, CEO of Partner4Work Rob Cherry, and President of CCAC Dr. Quinton Bullock.
Thank you for your commitment to our children.
I would also like to thank PPS Superintendent Wayne Walters, and CTE Executive Director Angela Mike – our renewed partnership with PPS will have a lasting impact for generations to come.
We are also seeking new funding for additional talent recruiters to proactively seek out qualified candidates for City employment so all Pittsburghers have access to City jobs.
Our Human Resources and Civil Services department has been a critical partner in our work to rebuild our partnership with Pittsburgh Public Schools.
They have been working to identify areas where we can eliminate barriers to employment – such as no longer requiring a driver’s license to serve as a crossing guard.
Removing these barriers creates new ways for people who wish to serve the City of Pittsburgh can have the opportunity to do so.
In order to rebuild our city and create new opportunities for growth we must modernize our work in zoning and development to increase staff capacity and accelerate reviews in the Planning department.
We are also making key investments to fully implement the OneStop permitting program.
One of the foundational principles for my administration is to serve the people.
In order to improve core city services, response times, and save taxpayer dollars we are embarking on a reorganization of departments to maximize our ability to serve.
Our Office of Neighborhood Services within the Mayor’s Office will now be the new home of 311. By working together community engagement and resident services will be improved.
This small and mighty team has been on the front lines of serving our residents. They meet regularly with over 80 different community groups each month – and together have responded to thousands of questions from residents and resolving over 70% of resident concerns during the initial intake process.
This new merger with 311 means they will be working together with our Department of Innovation and Performance to update the way we route service requests in order to improve our work responding to constituent requests.
Our Office of Communications within the Mayor’s Office will now be the new home of City Channel, our print shop, and website teams. By combining these departments, we will more effectively communicate the work of City government.
Thank you – and I am looking forward to working with you to implement this bold vision for our city and as partners in our vision of safe neighborhoods, welcoming communities, and thriving people.
I have always said that together we will make Pittsburgh a city for all, all we have to do is go get it.
Mayor Gainey's 2023 Capital Budget Proposal can be found at http://apps.pittsburghpa.gov/redtail/images/19739_November_2023_Capital_Budget_vF.pdf
Mayor Gainey's 2023 Operating Budget Proposal can be found at http://apps.pittsburghpa.gov/redtail/images/19738_2023_Operating_Budget_-_November_vF.pdf