The City of Pittsburgh is the population and economic center of Allegheny County and tens of thousands of Allegheny County residents come to the city every day to work, visit restaurants, and attend events. The city and county are inherently linked in many ways, including in many of the challenges we face. Issues like the water quality of our rivers and streams, the flooding that plagues many of our neighborhoods, the funding of our public transportation system, the assessment of property taxes, and economic development planning require close cooperation and good working partnerships between officials at the city and county levels. As Mayor, I will build on existing relationships and create new ones to strengthen our partnership with the county to the benefit of all residents of Pittsburgh and the region.
1. Sharing Services to Save Taxpayers Money
One of the core recommendations of the Act 47 Recovery Plan was to find ways to share services with Allegheny County to reduce the burden on taxpayers in both the city and the county. With such a fragmented local government there are often inefficiencies in the way that we deliver services and some overlaps and duplication. We can work together with the county to find ways to increase efficiency, provide better services to residents of the city and county, and save money in the process.
Financial Management: The first step toward sharing some services with the county is the completion of the merger of the City and County’s Financial Management system. I have been pushing this project for many years and, though the current administration has been slow to move forward with it, we are finally getting close to implementation. Eventually we will be able to use the system for payroll, purchasing, inventory tracking, fleet management and a host of other money-saving initiatives.
Purchasing: The city and county both buy lots of stuff. From police cars, to computers, to electricity, to trash cans, to the bags that go into those trash cans we spend millions of dollars every year purchasing supplies and equipment. Everyone knows that buying in bulk reduces prices so it makes good common sense to start purchasing these things together. Other cities and counties that have combined purchasing have reduced their overall costs between 5 and 10% every year. That is millions of dollars that we can instead invest directly into our neighborhoods.
Regional Assets: The city and the county benefit from many shared regional assets like parks and public transportation. Developing more coordination and cooperation in the management of these assets could reduce our costs and allow us to enhance the quality of the services. In 2004, I served as co-chair of a City-County Summit on the creation of a regional parks system. One of the recommendations of this summit was to share the management of the city and county parks systems. The city has four regional parks and the county has nine. Working together, we could potentially bring home more money from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the Regional Asset District to invest in this regional park system and chip away at the tens of millions of dollars in deferred maintenance costs we are currently shouldering. We have great partners in the management of our parks such as the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy and we would work closely with them to strengthen our regional park system and save money in the process.
Fleet Management: The city and county both own or lease a large number of vehicles from police cars to fire trucks to building inspection cars to public works vehicles. One easy way to work together and save money would be to coordinate on the inspection, repair, and retrofitting of these vehicles to extend their lives and ensure that we have a healthy fleet of vehicles operational at all times.