Ravenstahl says he expects state to take over city pension plan

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Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl today predicted that City Council will vote down his parking lease plan Tuesday, setting up a state takeover of the city pension fund.

Council voted down the plan in preliminary action last week and is scheduled to take a second vote on Tuesday.

Mr. Ravenstahl said he and his staff have spent nearly two years working on a plan that would parlay proceeds from a leasing parking facilities to a private operator into a pension fund bailout. He said the plan would avert a state takeover that would lead to dramatically higher pension payments that the city could make only by raising taxes or cutting services.

Mr. Ravenstahl said he doesn't believe an alternative plan, proposed by some council members and city Controller Michael Lamb, is viable and has instructed his staff to begin preparing for a state takeover of the pension fund, which probably would occur next fall.

By state law, the state will take over the fund if the city is unable to raise the level of funding from about 27 percent of the requirement to at least 50 percent by the end of this year.

Mr. Ravenstahl said he won't spend time lobbying council members to support the lease plan tomorrow and now intends to devote his attention to other issues, including some he neglected because of the parking and pension debate. A consortium had bid about $452 million to lease the parking facilities.

"It's time to move on," he said. "That's what our administration is getting ready to do."

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


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