Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Council Adds Money for Its Own Staff, Mileage Reimbursement

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Council Adds Money for Its Own Staff, Mileage Reimbursement

Article excerpt

Pittsburgh City Council gave initial approval to a raft of budget amendments Monday, adding thousands in spending for council staff and paving the way for the restoration of reimbursement for use of their own vehicles while on city business, among others.

On a 7-2 vote, the council approved a budget amendment by Councilman Ricky Burgess that would increase the staff appropriation from $108,000 to $120,000 for each of the nine council offices. The addition, which council members can distribute as they please, will cost city taxpayers an extra $108,000 a year in total.

Councilman Dan Gilman and Councilwoman Theresa Kail-Smith opposed the move and also voted against Mr. Burgess' amendment creating a pool of $375 per month for council members' reimbursement for use of their personal vehicles.

"At a time when we're financially strapped . I don't believe that this is the best use of public tax dollars," Mr. Gilman said, citing city workers who saw their wages frozen in 2015, public safety departments like police and paramedics with vacancies as well as needs, including road paving and building maintenance.

Mr. Burgess has said council staff members deserve increases and noted that council members previously received reimbursement for using their vehicles before voting it away under political pressure in 2008.

Mr. Burgess' budget amendment, which Councilwomen Natalia Rudiak and Darlene Harris abstained from voting on, creates a pool of money for council members to access for reimbursement. Actually allowing them to file for it will come in legislation being introduced today, he said.

Council also approved amendments adding a park ranger to patrol city parks, an "early childhood manager" to the city's Bureau of Neighborhood Empowerment in a new office of the same name and an administrative position for the city's Equal Opportunity Review Commission to help complete the commission's annual report. …

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