Pittsburgh City Council approves Peduto's administrative changes

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A series of budget amendments that were approved by Pittsburgh City Council this morning were rubber-stamped this afternoon by a state financial overseer.

The Intergovermental Cooperation Authority, whose five-member board is charged with overseeing the city's finances, this afternoon approved the changes to the city's budget. The changes lay the groundwork for reorganizing certain city departments under new Mayor Bill Peduto and provides money for an early retirement program that provides buyouts for certain longtime city employees.

The ICA, which holds the purse strings on the city's gaming revenue, also approved passing on around $5.7 million in revenue from the end of 2013 to the city, the bulk of which will go to the city's pension funds. Around $300,000 was allocated to help the city purchase a financial management system.

The slate of bills that amended the budget were passed with overwhelming support from Pittsburgh City Council this morning.

One of the bills puts the final touches on changes to the city’s financial operations, which will create a separate Office of Management and Budget whose functions were previously performed under the Finance Department. The mayor’s office will directly oversee the new office, which also will be responsible for city purchasing through the Bureau of Procurement, Fleet and Asset Services.

Another bill authorizes $7.1 million for an early retirement program that already has been approved. The program offers buyouts to qualifying non-union and non-uniform employees, some of whom may be losing their jobs under the Peduto administration.

Kevin Acklin, chief of staff for Mr. Peduto, has said the administration plans to leave a third of the positions of departing employees vacant, reaping cost savings over time. The appropriation for the program will come out of the city’s surplus.

Councilwoman Darlene Harris voted against three of the bills, saying she did not support the early retirement incentive program because she worried it had not been signed off on by state overseers. She also opposed a $20,000 raise for the city’s public safety chief.

The position is currently held by Michael Huss, who was appointed by Mayor Tom Murphy as fire chief and promoted to public safety chief by Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. Mr. Huss remains a finalist for the position, but the Peduto administration recently re-advertised the job seeking more candidates.

Moriah Balingit: mbalingit@post-gazette.com, 412-263-2533 or on Twitter @MoriahBee. First Published February 11, 2014 12:17 PM

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