Monday, September 19, 2005

Stormy Seas a-brewin' for 2006 City Budget

If you remember last year's budget fiasco, it'll be no surprise that 2005's budget battle is shaping up for more of the same. From the P-G:

A conservative estimate of the city's revenues could require steep spending cuts. Murphy threatened to eliminate jobs in his letter to [State Budget Secretary Michael] Masch.

Cuts would likely elicit howls from city departments and neighborhoods alike. Whether those howls would be a catalyst for more state aid or nonprofit help is anybody's guess.

Avast me proud beauty!

The Fire Bureau faces aging equipment and employees. The former need to be replaced. The latter are retiring. As a result, the city is spending $1 million a month on overtime in an effort to keep stations staffed.
Key in the 2004-2005 budget framework, were two provisions for (1) slots booty and (2) voluntary non-profit contributions. Both chases were making full sail, As neither of those sources of revenue have yet panned out, the City is looking to be in destined to dance with Jack Ketch. Arrrr! Of further concern is the ultimate outcome of the County Reassessments, those bilge sucking rats, which could either give the City enough or not enough revenue to continue on this tenuous path through the next year, or place on in the black spot.

On the other side, with 2004's drastic slash in City services, we're seeing a push to reinstate a lot of the cut programs, cut fullwidth by the budget cutlass; Council has already pushed to restore funding to the rodent control, to eliminate those rats in the bilges. This does not include all the mandatory payments (pensions, healthcare, interest on debt) that the City to which the City is bound; all of which have stolen doubloons and pieces-of-eight out of the chest.

Shiver me timbers!

Further complicating matters are the ICA and Act 47 Boards, who may (or may not?) have final say over what the City actually spends, and who have been granted letters of reprisal by the Commonwealth. Arrrr, matey! Already has the crew been sent to kiss the cannoneer's daughter, only to to be saved at the last minute from the cat.

Complicating matters even further than that is the promise of a new incoming administration, a new Cap'n for the crew, following last spring's keelhauling. While the incoming Cap'n has no official say over the 2006 budget, he will be bound to it for the duration of his first year in office, matey. This is effectively the last chance Cap'n Murphy has to have any say in the future direction of the City of Pittsburgh. This landlubber will be sent to feed the fish in Davy Jones' locker.

Without a chance t' capitalize on shared services between municipalities/authorities, a increase in revenue, a refinancin' o' existin' debt & obligations, a sudden surge in population, etc., me thinks that t' City will muddle through t' budget process much t' same as last year, endin' up with spendin' short on programs and revenues created out o' magic N'er will this ship be pulled out of the ol' bung hole.

Of course, there is always the option of invading Mt. Oliver, me hearties. Weigh anchor! Hoist the main sail! Smartly me lads; I see sails on the horizon! Ready the fore guns and prepare to board. No quarters!


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