PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Pittsburgh City Council gave preliminary approval to a bill that repeals the law that set up a petty cash fund for the use of the mayor, and effectively requires the mayor to access funds like any other city employee.
The bill was introduced by Councilman Corey O’Connor, whose late father was mayor in 2006.
The fund, as it currently exists, was established in 1995 under the administration of former Mayor Tom Murphy.
A recent Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article raised questions about whether Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s staff was able to sidestep city policies on travel through their use of the fund.
“At this point, we believe this fund is out of date. We want this system to go the same as everybody else for their system for their travel,” said Councilman O’Connor. “So, if any councilmember, controller, director wanted to go to Philadelphia or Harrisburg they can get reimbursed on their credit card or they could ask for an advance just like everybody else does in the system. I believe the reason to get rid of this outdated fund and put it in the general fund is so there are no loopholes in the future.”
Council voted unanimously for the changes.
Council also learned today that the mayor’s office is not the only department with access to such a fund. The Law Department and even the Parks Department has one. Those will be reviewed.
But there are also some police accounts which Council understands cannot be made public.
“There are a couple funds that operate this way,” Councilman O’Connor said. “There’s a couple with the police bureau, which obviously its narcotics and witness protection, so you really can’t touch those up front with that; but its again – talk with those different departments and see how they transfer the funds and make sure everything is okay there.”
This was just a preliminary vote. The final vote is next week.