Mayor Luke Ravenstahl delivered his 2011 budget to City Council Monday.
The budget is balanced with no new taxes and no cuts in city services.
But during the mayor’s speech, he made it clear that his relations with City Council are tense. It didn’t take Mayor Ravenstahl long to criticize Council for rejecting his long-term lease of garages and parking meters.
“Some members of City Council chose the short term, irresponsible approach that has long plagued our city. And now it will again,” says Ravenstahl.
The mayor blames Council for allowing a state takeover of the pension fund that will boost the city’s annual payments to the fund.
“It is not what is best for Pittsburgh and those we were chosen to lead. Nonetheless, if that is the path Council chooses, we must live with it, regardless of how disastrous the long term consequences will be,” Ravenstahl told council members.
Councilman Doug Shields has sat through dozens of budget speeches and said this one was unlike the others.
“I never saw a mayor come into the chamber and essentially insult the Council in the speech he gave today, and that seemed to be the prime message. There wasn’t anything about a vision for the city,” says Shields.
Finance Chair Bill Peduto said the mayor missed an opportunity by scolding instead of inspiring.
“Create a vision for Pittsburgh. Instead, we are still being pushed down this idea of selling our parking assets off to Wall Street,” says Peduto.
Ravenstahl rejects the Council-Controller’s Alternative Plan, insisting his plan is the only basis for a compromise, and then charging, “They clearly don’t want to solve problems,” says Ravenstahl.
That infuriates Council members.
“There are other solutions on the table, and I know that we as a Council are willing to work with the mayor to look at those alternative solutions,” says Natalia Rudiak.
KDKA Political Editor Jon Delano asked the mayor how he characterizes his relationship with Council.
“It’s not good. Members of City Council continue to oppose our agenda which is certainly within their right,” says Ravenstahl.
Ravenstahl comes from City Council, so you would think he could create the relationships with his former colleagues that would allow for action on his key proposals.
Instead, it’s hard to imagine a more confrontational approach in City Hall — with both sides accusing the other.
After the budget address, it seems like not much has changed.