Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

No Tax Hike in Peduto Budget Mayor's Proposal Calls for Landlords to Pay $65 per Unit

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

No Tax Hike in Peduto Budget Mayor's Proposal Calls for Landlords to Pay $65 per Unit

Article excerpt

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto delivered his 2016 operating budget and capital plan to city council on Monday, highlighting plans to boost police hiring, pave more streets, hire more building inspectors, bolster the pension fund, cut debt and fix the city's dilapidated buildings.

Unlike the 2015 budget, the new budget does not contain a real estate tax increase, although there is a proposed $65 per unit fee for rental property owners, a measure that last year elicited a strong backlash and threats of litigation from landlords. The fee will be discussed at a special council meeting at 9 a.m. today.

But for city Controller Michael Lamb, who was sitting in on Mr. Peduto's presentation to a receptive audience of city department heads, police and fire brass, and other city workers, what was striking was what was missing.

"I still have concerns that we have no contribution from the large nonprofits and are relying on our residents to foot the bill," Mr. Lamb said, referring to ongoing negotiations between the mayor's office and UPMC, Highmark, the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University, largely exempt from local taxes, over a financial commitment to the city. In 2014, Mr. Peduto opted to drop a lawsuit seeking to strip UPMC's nonprofit status in favor of a new arrangement that he said would be structured more along the lines of the Pittsburgh Promise scholarship fund and would not involve a payment to the city's operating budget.

Those talks are still ongoing, said Sam Ashbaugh, director of the city's Office of Management and Budget, and may or may not be concluded by the end of the year.

"It was never meant to be included in an operating budget anyway," Mr. Ashbaugh said.

The $518.7 million operating budget Mr. Peduto presented to the council Monday is more than $1 million higher than the $517. …

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