Friday, September 23, 2005

City Council over budget; staff layoffs are possible

The most logical layoff to consider is Gene Ricciardi's job. Gene is going to resign from City Council some day. But, we don't know when. He'll need to resign around January 1, 2006, as he'll be getting sworn in as a District Magistrate.

Gene is my city council representative. I'm expected to enter the race for his seat.

With gambling's arrival in the future, we do need to have city council's third seat filled by a strong voice. Same too with the arrival of a new mayor.

If Gene was able to resign now -- that would save some money.

Another hit against the overall budget is the cost of the pending special election in early 2006. The election for the city council seat will need to occur on its own day -- rather than coupled with the November general election. The special election tab won't be carried by the city council line items in the budget.
City Council over budget; staff layoffs are possible: "Ricciardi said he believes the situation may be worse, with council heading for a $150,000 deficit.

Perhaps city council should put a little peer pressure on the city controller's office to cut the spending over there. I don't think it is right for Tom Flaherty's office to continue its spending -- blowing a big hole in the budget. Tom Flaherty wants to be a judge and he is showing poor judgement.

Sure, the cuts to the controller's office demanded by Act 47 are not within reason. I hate the fact that everyone always runs to the courts to settle our problems too. But, I'm not seeing much from the Controller's office these days either. They must be spinning their wheels on a court case and not the downward saga of the city.

The city controller's office should put an extra $200,000 or so on the table. Then city council's ills are not so drastic.
The voters of Allegheny County should know how the city controller's office has managed its budget.

I'm in a strange position if I call for the quick resignation of Gene Riccardi. I'm not sure I want to raise that as the best possible solution. It would have been better if the leadership there had been watching the spending and had it match the budget, week in and week out. They didn't seem to do that, as is typical.

Gene does have a few things to attend to in his present role on council. But, time is short and so is money.

Gene has not won the D.J. seat yet as the November 2005 election is still to occur. Elections should not be considered just a formality, even when one is running without opposition, I guess. Humm. I guess it is just a formality now, really.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

City Council over budget; staff layoffs are possible
Thursday, September 22, 2005

By Rich Lord, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Pittsburgh City Council is considering laying off staff in an effort to stay within its budget, council President Gene Ricciardi said yesterday.

Council met in a closed-door executive session Tuesday to discuss its budget problems, Ricciardi said.

He said council is weighing three options.

"One alternative would be cutbacks in our staffs," he said.

Others are transferring money from another city department, or continuing to overspend and letting next year's budget cover the deficit, said Councilman William Peduto, who supports neither of those options.

Council spent $1.2 million through August, according to the city controller's office. That would put it on pace to outstrip its $1.73 million budget by about $72,000.

Ricciardi said he believes the situation may be worse, with council heading for a $150,000 deficit.

Council and the city clerk had a $2.21 million budget in 2004. State-appointed fiscal overseers pushed council and the mayor's office to accept cuts of around 25 percent.

"All the council members are committed to meeting the [budget]," Ricciardi said. "Other city employees have faced the pain [of layoffs]. ... It's difficult times. We lead by example."

Most of council's budget goes to salaries for the nine council members, who make $53,687 each, and some 30 council and clerk staff members.

The state-appointed Act 47 recovery team has repeatedly chastised council for overspending. It also said in a Sept. 1 report that the mayor's office is on pace to overspend by $91,260, but is reducing spending as people quit.

The controller's office also was asked to cut its $2.8 million budget by 25 percent, but has filed suit in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court to block the cut. A trial date has not been set, according to the office of Judge R. Stanton Wettick Jr., who is hearing the case.

The controller's office is on pace to overspend by $442,822, according to the Act 47 team.

(Rich Lord can be reached at or 412-263-1542.)