Mayor Peduto Unveils 2020 Budget, Promises No New Taxes Or Tax Increases

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Since becoming mayor six years ago — Mayor Peduto has had an ambitious agenda, and in introducing his 2020 budget, he said his administration is well on its way of achieving those goals.

“We’ve made great progress in restructuring government, improving the delivery of crucial services and ensuring our financial stability, but there’s always room for improvement and Pittsburgh deserves the very best,” Peduto said.

In the past six years, the Peduto Administration has hired more police, more firefighters and paramedics while more than doubling the contributions to the city’s ailing pension fund. It’s also paved more streets and made more repairs to crumbling city buildings than administrations past.

Mayor Bill Peduto proposed a $608 million operating budget in 2020 for the city of Pittsburgh during his annual budget address to City Council Tuesday morning.

The address began at 10 a.m. in Council Chambers at the City-County Building.

WATCH: Mayor Peduto’s Budget Address —

In the Operating and Capital budgets, the Peduto administration is promising no new taxes or tax increases.

Peduto sent a letter to City Council, saying of the operating budget, it “continues my commitment to developing a long-term financial sustainability plan, strengthens financial management practices, and improves the efficiency and effectiveness of government operations for the benefit of city residents and employees.”

While not calling for a tax increase, this year’s budget is about $30 million more than last year’s and is a whopping $120 million more in spending than when he became mayor in 2014.

A $120 million spending increase is a lot of money but the mayor maintains he inherited years of neglect and just about every dollar is needed.

“If we had an extra $100 million, I can still assure you there would be things that wouldn’t be done,” he said.

Besides holding the line on taxes, the budget contained more than $600 million in investments in facilities and other infrastructure needs.

The mayor also devoted nearly $17 million to paving city streets next year and almost $6 million for the purchase of 32 new police hybrid cars as part of his climate change initiatives.

Also under the climate change umbrella, the mayor discusses landslides.

“We spent much of 2019 battling severe landslides and flooding. In 2020, we must maintain our preparedness for these issues,” he said.

He also discussed pension funding, increased spending on parks, recreation, senior centers and public safety facilities.

The budget would also send funding for additional police and firefighter recruit classes. In addition, Peduto is proposing the launch of three new police substations in Homewood, the South Side and downtown.

Council still needs to vote on the budget.

While even City Controller and fiscal watchdog Michael Lamb agrees most of the money is being well-spent, he says it shouldn’t have fallen entirely on residents and commercial businesses.

“We could have had more money over the last seven years had we been working with our large non-profit organizations and negotiated some payment in lieu of taxes that they should be contributing for the services that we provide them,” Lamb said.

The mayor says he’s working with the non-profits and foundations on his OnePGH plan to fund needs outside of the budget and will be making an announcement in the coming weeks.