The proposed budget also includes shifting funding and responsibilities from Pittsburgh police to the new Health, Safety and Violence Prevention Initiative.By Amy Wadas

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto says if the city doesn’t get aid from Washington, more than 600 employees will lose their jobs.

The $564 million operating budget proposed by Mayor Peduto Monday doesn’t include tax increases and the mayor’s office says it tries to avoid laying off and furloughing city employees.

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Because of coronavirus, the mayor’s office says Pittsburgh has been forced to spend almost all of the $120 fund balance that had been built up over the past seven years, and they’re now seeking federal aid.

The city faces a $55 million deficit at the end of the year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the city is required by law to have a balanced budget, the mayor says it’s relying on aid from Washington. If that money doesn’t come, 634 employees could lose their jobs.

“It should never come to this, and it breaks my heart to say, but if we don’t get aid from Washington, it will require the city to make $25.6 million in additional personnel cuts starting July 1,” says Peduto.

Mayor Peduto’s Chief of Staff Dan Gilman says, “The mayor has been clear that the mayor’s office would take a larger cut.”

On top of that, Mayor Peduto said all non-union employees will not get cost of living adjustments to their pay next year and the majority of vacant positions are also being eliminated citywide starting Jan. 1.

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The mayor’s office says the proposed budget also shifts some funding and responsibilities from police to the new Health, Safety and Violence Prevention Initiative.

“We are not defunding the police, but are reinvesting in our communities,” Mayor Peduto says.

Mayor Peduto says this will ultimately allow police to focus on keeping neighborhoods safe from crime.

“Money wasn’t directly moved from policing. Money to fund the Community Office of Health and Safety is a combination of grants and money from the Stop the Violence Trust Fund,” says Gilman.

City council will begin virtual budget hearings starting Nov. 18, with preliminary votes starting Dec. 14. A final vote will take place Dec. 21.

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