Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Act 47: Our Work Here is Done [*-UPDATES]

E.T.: The Extra Terrestrial
We had some good times over the years -- firing employees, closing public facilities, gutting departments.

But now, in an October surprise, one-half of Pittsburgh's financial overlords say it's time to leave well enough alone.

"Today, Pittsburgh has a structurally balanced operating budget with recurring revenues consistently outpacing expenditures," Mr. Kaplan and Mr. Roberts said in the letter. (P-G, Joe Smydo; see also Trib, Bob Bauder)

They key word there is "operating" budget.

I don't think anybody is arguing that our pension and "legacy costs" problems are behind us, nor that they won't ruin our capital budget and operating budgets both if we don't do anything anytime soon. (In fact, this year and next we needed to borrow money for the cap budget.) But the ICA deals with "finances": things like debt, investments, and five-year outlooks -- and it has has been the oversight body active in the news and vetoing city maneuvers since, well, since this web log of civic events started. Evidently the Act 47 team decided that now that the City is slimmed down to its present form and is no longer hemorrhaging cash, it had gotten a bit vestigial.

Even still, a very recognizable mile marker.

*-UPDATE: The letter from Act 47 is here and the response from the ICA is here. The latter stresses that they will be sticking around but that everybody conceivable deserves credit for the progress.

The former is noteworthy in that it specifically credits two City maneuvers: the adoption of "a suite of management tools" (see Background) and that it "has taken critical steps to address its legacy costs," which could not possibly mean City Council's New Years Rockin' Eve, could it?

Update 2: And/or did these "critical steps" include the Other Post-Employee Benefits Trust Fund, established after the ICA's insistence last year was twice ignored?


  1. That's classic. Luke takes credit for the Act 47 exit and the reasons they are leaving were initiatives pushed by the Controller that Luke opposed. He is a man of destiny.

  2. I wouldn't want to exclude "the Council" from the list of folks including the Controller who pushed those key initiatives either, Anon 4:51, but yes -- it is uncanny.

    And yet THIS. "He's done a good job of that." "The buck stops here."

    The closest literary parallel I can think of is Inspector Gadget. Penny and Brain knock themselves out doing the legwork and Gadget receives the keys to the city.