Peduto cuts down on parking passes for city employees

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Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto crafted a new policy slashing the number of free parking passes available to employees from 271 to 29, while allowing marked vehicles on city business to park without restrictions during certain hours outside of Downtown.

Mr. Peduto issued an executive order last month to examine the city's policy of free passes, which allow employees to park in metered spaces and city lots for free. The previous administration gave the passes to everyone from the mayor's chief of staff to volunteer members of boards and commissions. In a news release, Mr. Peduto said that some held them legitimately, but others "got them as favors or gifts."

On Monday, the mayor's office announced that distribution of the passes will be extremely limited and 18 of the passes will be controlled by department heads who can issue them to employees on a daily basis. The other 11 will be distributed to the nine members of city council, Controller Michael Lamb and the Law Department attorney assigned to magistrate's court. The mayor's office, which had nine before, will have none.

Previously, 189 city and authority employees and three Allegheny County employees had unrestricted passes that could be used anywhere in the city at any time. Another 79 restricted passes could be used during certain business hours Downtown and in Uptown. That included some authority board members who worked strictly on a volunteer basis.

The reduction in the number of passes is accompanied by a rule change that will allow those in marked city vehicles to park in legal spaces without paying outside of Downtown during the daytime, as long as they're on city business. The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority -- which had 52 passes before -- will have none. But spokeswoman Melissa Rubin said most of the passes were attached to marked city vehicles that will still be permitted to park without restrictions while out on the job. By and large, she said, it won't change the way the authority does business.

The authority previously had passes for its board members, who have all resigned per a request from the mayor. New board members, when they're appointed, won't have that benefit.

"The parking pass situation that existed before was out of control and it was past time to rein it in," Mr. Peduto said. "There are a very limited number of employees who will receive these passes to do their jobs, and this policy ensures that it will stay that way."

Mr. Peduto noted that some revenue from parking meters is used to bolster the city's pension fund, so it is important to collect as much money as possible.

Under the new policy, 10 passes will be available in the city's Finance Department; four in the controller's office; two in the Planning Department; and one each in public works and building inspection. Finance and the controller's office have employees who travel across the city regularly to collect money or do contract inspection.

Under the old system, the mayor's office has estimated the passes cost the city about $1 million annually.

That estimate assumed that all of the passes were used every single business day in Downtown metered parking spaces that cost $3 an hour.

Ed Blazina: or 412-263-1470. Moriah Balingit:, 412-263-2533 or on Twitter @MoriahBee. First Published February 24, 2014 3:05 PM

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