PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – As the groundbreaking ceremonies wind down and the memorabilia is packed up, Luke Ravenstahl points to three major accomplishments during his tenure as mayor.
No. 1 is a decrease in crime.
“When you consider that when I took office in 2006 and you look at the statistics today, crime is down over 30 percent,” Ravenstahl said.
The number of the city’s so-called “Part One” crimes – ranging from homicide to rape to robbery – has gone down from 18,000 to 13,000 incidents since 2006. New crime fighting technology is a factor.
But former council president Doug Shields sees a budge consequence.
“The city budget this year was expected to have a substantial surplus and I’ve been informed that that is actually being lowered because of overtime costs in both police and fire,” Sheilds said.
The mayor admits weekend South Side details have been expensive, but overall managed lower crime with fewer officers.
The second accomplishment: he points to a better budget position for the city since he’s been in office.
But a state oversight board was in place before he took office and continues that oversight today.
“We have been able to reach a certain level of fiscal sustainability,” said board chair Nicholas Varischetti. “We’re nowhere near to completing that recovery process and the ICA is looking forward to working with whoever that new administration will be to continue that recovery process.”
KDKA asked if city officials made it happen or if it happened because of state oversight.
“Certainly that was very helpful and they were there to guide us, but the reality is we still had to make the difficult decisions,” Ravenstahl said. “The state oversight boards and the ICA weren’t the people that were answering the questions in community meetings when we told them we might not be able to pave this street this year or we can’t open that swimming pool, so those were tough decisions that we made.”
Finally, the mayor says he’s most proud of the Pittsburgh Promise Scholarship program. He admits it was former school superintendent Mark Roosevelt’s idea and admits nobody was certain contributors like UPMC would back it when they announced the proposal in 2006.
“We didn’t have the funding right away,” Ravenstahl said. “It took almost a year to get UPMC to come on board, but if we didn’t do it the way we did, if our style wasn’t as such as we just stood up and said we want to do this, I don’t know that it would have ever happened.”
The mayor has not ruled out politics in his future, he’s still mum on what his next job will be, but his term ends in January.