Pittsburgh Parking Authority keeps meter money from city
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The Pittsburgh Parking Authority isn't willing to consider turning over more meter revenue to the city until the state determines whether the city averted a pension fund takeover, city Councilman Bill Peduto said after a meeting with representatives of the authority and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's office.
Council passed a pension bailout last year that taps more than $735 million in parking tax revenue over 31 years. The diversion created a perpetual hole in the operating budget. Council increased parking meter rates to close the gap, but the parking authority so far has declined to turn over any additional revenue.
By the end of the day Thursday, the city must present a new biennial pension fund valuation to the state. The city will argue that council's bailout pushed the pension fund above the 50 percent solvency level, averting a takeover.
It isn't clear how long the state will take to rule on the status of the city pension fund.
While the city owns the 7,000 meters, the authority, by prior revenue-sharing agreement, keeps most of the revenue and gives the city an annual subsidy of about $1.3 million. Because of the increased meter rates, which took effect June 1, council wanted the subsidy increased to $2.6 million this year and to $9.3 million annually thereafter.
Mr. Peduto said the authority representatives told him they won't consider amending the revenue-sharing agreement until the state rules on the status of the pension fund. He said the authority should begin cooperating now.
"We want that agreement now. That's what the money was intended for," he said, referring to the meter rate increases. At this point, Mr. Peduto said, the city is counting on $9.3 million from the parking authority to balance the 2012 operating budget.
In addition to meter increases, enforcement in some neighborhoods was expanded four hours, to 10 p.m., in June. In recent weeks, Mr. Ravenstahl and council members have raised the possibility of scaling back those hours. Mr. Peduto said David Onorato, the authority's executive director, next month will present a report to the authority board on that possibility.
Mr. Onorato couldn't be reached Tuesday. The mayor's office said Scott Kunka, the mayor's finance director, met with Mr. Peduto at the councilman's request to discuss meter modernization, enforcement hour changes and other matters but provided no details about the status of the revenue-sharing agreement.
Mr. Peduto said it wasn't clear to him why they linked the two issues. In Mr. Peduto's mind, the amended revenue-sharing agreement would help convince the state of the city's commitment to the pension fund and other financial obligations. He said he's even willing to consider making an amended revenue-sharing agreement contingent on the state's approval of the pension situation. But Mr. Kunka and Mr. Onorato said no.
First Published August 31, 2011 12:00 am