City Council study of Pittsburgh parking assets stalled

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Pittsburgh City Council's $250,000 study of city parking assets hit a snag Monday when financial overseers sent the plan back to the drawing board on a procedural foul.

Council didn't seek advance approval from the Act 47 Recovery Team and the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, the city's financial oversight boards, so it must stop negotiations with any consultants it had in mind for the project, city solicitor Daniel Regan said in a letter to council members.

Henry Sciortino, ICA executive director, said his agency raised the concerns. He said significant changes in city budgets require ICA approval. He held out the possibility of getting the study back on track quickly.

On June 8, council commissioned the study by Finance Scholars Group, saying a study of parking meters and garages is necessary to decide how to bail out the city pension fund. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has proposed leasing parking assets to the private sector and pumping the proceeds into the pension fund, but council members are wary. Council President Darlene Harris and Councilwoman Natalia Rudiak said they were frustrated by the prospect of another setback for the study, which Mrs. Harris initially hoped the ICA would help fund.

Council cobbled together $250,000 from old capital projects after ICA declined to help. In another setback, council's initial choice to oversee the study, Government Finance Officers Association, declined to take part.

Mrs. Harris and Ms. Rudiak said council wants as much information as possible before voting on the mayor's lease plan this fall. Ms. Rudiak said overseers were kept well informed of plans for the study. "Now they're asking us to cease and desist?" she said.

Mr. Sciortino said he isn't questioning the purpose of the study, only the way council went about approving it.

While council members may have informed ICA of their interest in a study, Mr. Sciortino said, it didn't go through the proper process to obtain funding. If council makes the request, he said, ICA will take it up promptly.

The request should be made through the city finance department, he said. The finance department reports to the mayor, who opposes the parking study, but Mr. Sciortino said that detail shouldn't impede council's request from getting to ICA.

Joe Smydo: or 412-263-1548.


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