10 Years Later, Is Pittsburgh Really Climbing Out Of The Red?

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Ten years and four months ago, then-Mayor Tom Murphy stood before a cadre of media to deliver grim news.

By the time he stepped up to speak, eyes moistened with tears, Pittsburgh city government had been sputtering along like an airplane held together by duct tape, according to a former finance director. But now the plane was about to take a nose dive — with the possibility of bankruptcy hovering.

“I hate doing this,” Mr. Murphy told the reporters.

He announced plans to lay off 731 city workers — including police officers — and leave hundreds more positions unfilled. All but six city pools would be drained and closed early — along with 19 recreation centers that were, in many places, critical gathering spots for sports and community events. Later that year, the city’s credit rating would be downgraded, making it the only major American city whose debt was rated “junk.” A fifth of the city’s budget went to pay off old debt.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2013/12/29/10-years-later-is-Pittsburgh-really-climbing-out-of-the-red/stories/201312290057#ixzz2or2K9BKS

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Supermarket Opens In Pittsburgh’s Hill District, The First In Three Decades

Locator map with the Upper Hill neighborhood i...

Locator map with the Upper Hill neighborhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania highlighted. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The Hill District‘s long-awaited Shop ‘n Save supermarket opened this morning in the Centre Heldman Plaza.

Neighborhood and elected officials, including Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, celebrated the opening of the 29,500-square-foot grocery at 10 a.m. The full-service facility, described as the first in the neighborhood in more than three decades, ends what has been known as a “food desert” there.

After many starts and stops, the $12.5 million store was completed by Ross Markets. In a press release, owner Jeff Ross said the store will have more than 100 employees, 95 percent of them minorities and 65 percent from the neighborhood.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-city/supermarket-set-to-open-this-morning-in-pittsburghs-hill-district-707982/#ixzz2i0k29Zed

Standard & Poor’s Increases Pittsburgh’s Credit Rating To A

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s has bumped up Pittsburgh’s credit rating three notches to A, a move that could save the city money on future borrowing by improving the city’s credit profile.

The agency cited a number of factors in moving the city’s credit rating up from BBB.  First, it said the city’s resilient economy and “deep and diverse economic base” which allowed the city to fare relatively well during the economic downturn.  It also cited the presence of two state-appointed oversight boards that have kept close tabs on the city’s budget since the state of Pennsylvania declared it financially distressed nearly a decade ago.

S&P analyst Andrew Teras also cited the city’s debt management, increase in reserves and ability to manage long-term liabilities, like pensions.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/business/news/standard-poors-increases-pittsburghs-credit-rating-to-a-693510/#ixzz2XX5qOifp

Dems Nominate New Mayors In Pa. Primary

HARRISBURG — Democrats nominated new mayoral candidates in Pittsburgh, Scranton and Harrisburg in the Pennsylvania primary election.

They tapped veteran city Councilman William Peduto as their standard-bearer in Pittsburgh and city Tax Collector Bill Courtright in Scranton, but spurned Harrisburg Mayor Linda Thompson’s re-election bid and chose bookstore owner Eric Papenfuse instead on Tuesday.

Each is favored to win in the November election, given Democrats’ heavy registration advantage in the three cities.  Voters also handed Kim Bracey an apparent second term as mayor of York, where no Republican is running.

In the only statewide nomination race, Allegheny County Judge Jack McVay Jr. won the Democratic nomination for an open seat on the Superior Court, defeating Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Joseph C. Waters Jr.

Read more: http://www.timesleader.com/news/news-state/538304/Dems-nominate-new-mayors-in-Pa.-primary

Pittsburgh Mayor Ravenstahl Won’t Seek Re-Election

English: Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) meets with P...

English: Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) meets with Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, whose chance political ascendancy made him one of the youngest heads of a major American city, announced this morning in a news conference that he would not seek reelection, just 11 days after formally announcing his run.

The mayor opened the press conference saying he was proud of what he and his staff have accomplished during his tenure.

He said that all had come at a cost.  “Those who have paid the greatest cost are those who are closest to me.

He said he’d decided the pressure of the job was too much and had made the decision not to seek re-election.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/region/mayor-expected-to-make-announcement-about-his-future-677437/#ixzz2MJBUrE95

‘Personal Issues’ Keeping Pittsburgh Mayor Ravenstahl Away From Recent Public Events

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl has raised questions in missing several public and political events in recent days.

Wednesday night, he was a no-show at a candidates’ night at Perry Traditional Academy in his North Side political base, and a public explanation from his close friend, Kevin Quigley, only added to the uncertainty created by his absences.

Just after city Controller Michael Lamb, one of Mr. Ravenstahl’s rivals for the Democratic nomination for mayor, spoke to Democratic committee members, Mr. Quigley, a city Public Works Department official who is also a ward leader, rose to speak in Mr. Ravenstahl’s place.

He offered an intriguing but finally opaque apology and explanation for the candidate’s absence:

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-city/personal-issues-keeping-ravenstahl-away-from-recent-public-events-677204/#ixzz2MEa8vLHa

Pittsburgh City Council Unanimously Approves Ravenstahl’s Property Tax Plan

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pittsburgh City Council this morning unanimously approved Mayor Luke Ravenstahl‘s property tax proposal, which increases the homestead exemption and the low-income senior discount in addition to dropping the millage rate to comply with Pennsylvania law.

Although the rate will drop 30 percent — from 10.8 to 7.56 mills — the vast majority of homeowners will not see a corresponding drop in their taxes because of a reassessment that dramatically increased official home values.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-city/pittsburgh-city-council-unanimously-approves-ravenstahls-property-tax-plan-672491/#ixzz2JPup3Jxn

Pittsburgh School Board OKs 30 Percent Drop In Tax Rate

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its nei...

A map of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with its neighborhoods labeled. For use primarily in the list of Pittsburgh neighborhoods. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As required by state law because of an overall increase in property values, both Pittsburgh Public Schools and the city of Pittsburgh are on course to reduce property tax rates by about 30 percent for calendar 2013.

The school board Wednesday night unanimously approved reducing the rate from 13.92 mills to 9.65 mills.

Pittsburgh City Council Wednesday gave preliminary approval on a unanimous voice vote to Mayor Luke Ravenstahl‘s tax proposal that will drop the millage rate from 10.8 mills to 7.56 mills.  A final vote is set for Tuesday.

Whether the taxes of an individual property owner will go up depends on how the property fared in the countywide reassessment.  Overall, property values in the city went up 48 percent.  If the value of a particular property went up more than that, taxes will increase.  Taxes will decrease if the value went up less than that.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/news/education/pittsburgh-school-board-oks-30-drop-in-tax-rate-671734/#ixzz2Ix0Ud4So

Pittsburgh Targets Ending Financial Oversight (Act 47)

English: Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) meets with P...

English: Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) meets with Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After eight years of austerity, the city of Pittsburgh today will argue before a state panel that it has clawed its way to financial recovery and needs fewer mentors looking over its shoulder.

A public hearing on ending the city’s financially distressed status, and disbanding one of its oversight groups, begins at 4 p.m. in the city council chamber.

As of Friday, officials hadn’t decided whether to televise the hearing.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and his team will have 20 minutes to argue that establishing a trust fund for retiree health care, improvements to the capital budget process and bond rating upgrades, among other factors, warrant the city’s exit from Act 47, the law that imposes monitoring and financial restrictions on distressed municipalities.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/state/pittsburgh-targets-ending-financial-oversight-659655/#ixzz2AjL63Hnp

Worst Of Hurricane Sandy Expected In Western Pennsylvania Tonight

Locator map of the Greater Pittsburgh metro ar...

Locator map of the Greater Pittsburgh metro area in the western part of the of . Red denotes the Pittsburgh Metropolitan Statistical Area, and yellow denotes the New Castle Micropolitan Statistical Area, which is included in the Pittsburgh-New Castle CSA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pennsylvania utility companies are reporting that more than 30,000 people are already without power around the state, in the first wave of what are expected to be an increasing number of outages because of Hurricane Sandy.

At 3:15 p.m. Monday PECO was reporting over 15,000 customers without power, mostly in the Philadelphia area.  First Energy reports more than 8,000 and PPL about 8,000, including some in the Harrisburg area.

The utilities have lined up extra repair crews, but they still say some people could be without power for days.

Larger numbers of people are already without power in New Jersey.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/region/hurricane-sandy-impacts-beginning-to-be-felt-into-western-pennsylvania-659697/#ixzz2AjIf57gf

Pittsburgh Expects To Build Revenue Through Advertising

Editor’s note:  Great “outside the box” thinking to create additional revenue!

Companies would be allowed to buy naming rights to city buildings and advertise on city vehicles and employee uniforms, at swimming pools and recreation centers, in city mailings and on benches and parking meters under legislation to be introduced today in Pittsburgh City Council.

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said in a statement that the policy is intended to generate additional revenue in a “responsible and community-minded” way. This year’s city budget projects $500,000 in revenue from advertising.

“We have worked closely with council members and the community to craft the best possible policy,” he said. Councilman Bill Peduto, who will introduce the bill, said officials have been studying the issue for years.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/local/neighborhoods-city/pittsburgh-expects-to-build-revenue-through-advertising-645943/#ixzz21aP3g8ZF