Pittsburgh councilwoman pushes revised capital spending plan

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Pittsburgh Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak said she'll introduce legislation this morning to make the city's capital-budget process more open and comprehensive.

She's calling the bill the "Neighborhoods First Capital Budget Reform Act."

It would require the city to re-establish a six-year rolling capital plan. She said the city used to have a six-year road map but has gotten away from that in recent years.

The bill also would require the mayor to hold at least two public meetings to seek public input on the capital budget, and council would be required to hold two of its own. Such meetings would be an expansion of the public's role in the capital-budget process.

"This bill brings community members into the budget process, rather than shut them out," she said.

She said the legislation also would "stop the practice of hiding money in the budget."

Money sometimes accumulates in capital accounts because projects, though included in the budget, never get off the ground.

In a classic example, council recently decided to pull $250,000 from capital accounts dating back to the 1990s to fund a study of the city's parking assets.

Ms. Rudiak said her bill would establish a "reconciliation committee" to periodically review capital accounts and redirect unspent funds to the general fund or other capital projects.

Councilman Ricky Burgess also has introduced legislation to fine-tune the capital budget process.

Like Ms. Rudiak's bill, his legislation would require a six-year capital plan.

Mr. Burgess also would require a series of planning meetings with community groups.

Joe Smydo: jsmydo@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1548.


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