Surprised by a threatened veto from Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, the transition team for Mayor-elect Bill Peduto is revising an early pension plan for employees who may lose their jobs in the next administration and replacing it with a buyout proposal.
The new plan would offer eligible employees up to one year’s salary and not affect the city’s pension fund. The first version would have briefly amended city pension law to allow about 136 employees to retire a few years early with a full pension, but Mr. Ravenstahl and the chairman of the state’s fiscal oversight board worried about the impact on the city’s wobbly pension fund.
Mr. Peduto’s transition chief, attorney Kevin Acklin, was still working on particulars Wednesday and had no early estimates on how many employees would be eligible or how much the buyout plan would cost the city budget next year.
Mr. Peduto is planning to revamp city hiring next year, by ultimately posting more than 100 non-union jobs on a foundation-backed website called Talent-City.com. He announced his pension plan to provide a “soft landing” to current employees in those jobs who did not want to reapply. Their combined age plus years of service had to be at least 70, instead of 80 under current law.
The mayor-elect insisted Wednesday that his initial plan was fiscally sound and previously had the support of Ravenstahl officials. He considered shelving it entirely after Mr. Ravenstahl threatened a veto last Thursday, but submitted the new plan after talks with council members.
Mr. Acklin said the transition team could either submit budget amendments to pay for the proposal this month or wait until after the Jan. 6 mayoral inauguration.
In other transition news Mr. Peduto’s office announced Pittsburgh is one of 12 cities nationwide receiving grants to study ways to enroll needy children and families into health insurance plans.
The National League of Cities will give the city $30,000 to develop plans for enrolling those eligible into Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program. The league awarded grants as part of a long-term effort to increase health insurance enrollment among children and families underwritten by The Atlantic Philanthropies.
Tim McNulty: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1581. Follow the Early Returns blog at www.post-gazette.com/earlyreturns or on Twitter at @EarlyReturns. First Published December 11, 2013 9:00 AM