A New Sheriff in Town
With a letter rescinding its approval of Pittsburgh’s 2012 budget, the ICA (oversight board) has sent a strong signal of its unwillingness to continue business as usual vis-à-vis the board’s relationship with City administrators. The ICA board membership has been reshaped in recent months with two appointments who replaced outgoing members that were apparently disposed to go along with what the City wanted to do. With the new board makeup, holding the City’s feet to the fire on financial matters is obviously going to be increasingly the order of the day. No more ignoring promises to do things and getting no real push back from the ICA.
The board membership changes and their new, more disciplined, approach will also have an effect on the Act 47 coordinator who serves at the pleasure of the Governor. Under the previous Governor, the oversight of Pittsburgh’s finances and the demands made on the City to tighten its belt were often effectively resisted by the City government and its strong unions.
While progress has been made, the need to move the City toward a level of financial health that would warrant removal of its distressed status has not been achieved and the danger of backsliding has always been a real possibility, especially in view of the philosophical propensities of elected officials.
Taxpayers of the City should welcome the new sheriff as the best guarantee of putting the City on a path to sustainable fiscal health. Indeed, they should encourage the ICA board and Act 47 coordinator and insist they do the job they were created to do.