City's '08 Budget at $423.8 Million, but No New Taxes

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Mayor Luke Ravenstahl proposed a 2008 city budget with no tax increases, about $4.3 million in additional spending and about $11.2 million in increased revenue.

The proposed $423.8 million spending plan, released on the last business day before a state-mandated deadline, relies on nearly $9.6 million more next year from local income taxes. Whether the budget remains balanced would hinge, in part, on whether the city collects $4.3 million from various nonprofits, which contributed $6.3 million this year.

Ravenstahl said he got a verbal commitment for the $4.3 million. A spokesman for the group of nonprofits said he's "not sure where (Ravenstahl) got it."

"There is no commitment -- not as a board, certainly," said the Rev. Ron Lengwin, spokesman for the board of directors of the Pittsburgh Public Service Fund. The board, made up of 12 nonprofit leaders who administer a fund into which about 100 city nonprofits pay, hasn't scheduled a meeting to discuss payments to the city, he said.

"Maybe he got (a commitment) through individuals, but the committee has not met," Lengwin said.

The projected increase in local income tax revenue comes, in part, from a change in state law, which next year will give the city some money that this year goes to Pittsburgh Public Schools, said city budget Director Scott Kunka.

Ravenstahl also set a goal yesterday of not borrowing any money for at least five years, something he said will save the city about $100 million. Instead of issuing bonds to pay for things such as street paving, Ravenstahl proposes taking about $15 million next year from the city's savings account.

"What past administrations could not afford to spend, they borrowed, leaving future generations -- my generation, our generation -- to foot that bill," Ravenstahl said. …