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Time Running Out For City Pension Fund Compromise

By Andy Sheehan
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Parking Meter

(Photo by Jeff Swensen/Getty Images)

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Time has just about run out for the city to craft it’s own solution to it’s grossly-underfunded pension mess, but both the mayor and council remain dug in on how best to leverage the city’s parking garage and meters to remedy the situation.

Without a last minute compromise, the city will lose control of its funds.

“I think it is an inevitability,” said Councilman Doug Shields, D-Point Breeze.

Under the law, the city must find a way to fund at least half of the pensions to avoid state takeover and right now there’s no solution on the table.

“You got a date that says it’s got to be 50 percent by Jan. 1. Honestly I don’t see how that’s going to occur,” said Shields.

Council rejected the mayor’s plans to lease the garages and meters to a private operator, proposing instead selling those assets to the parking authority and using the proceeds to fund the pension. The mayor in turn rejected that proposal and that’s where it stands.

But city Controller Michael Lamb says there needs to be an agreement by next week when the pension board meets.

“If there’s not decision to move forward by that point, yeah I think we’re headed to state takeover,” Lamb said.

Under a state takeover, the state would mandate pension payments and the mayor has warned that failure to adopt his leasing plan could result in draconian cuts to the city services and massive layoffs.

On Monday through his spokesperson, he agreed that a state takeover appears inevitable, barring a willingness on council to agree to some kind of leasing plan, something council has said it will not do.

But Councilman Patrick Dowd, D-Point Breeze, held out hope.

“I believe we can solve problem. I haven’t given up on hope,” he said. “I haven’t turned my back on compromise or turned my back on trying to find a solution. I believe there is a way to solve this problem.”

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