Peduto, Pittsburgh council release proposed plan for $335 million in federal relief

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Pittsburgh will use more than half of the $335 million in federal relief money to make up for revenue losses projected through 2024, according to proposed allocations released Monday by Mayor Bill Peduto’s office.

The money from the American Rescue Plan will be received in two $167.5 million installments, one coming this year and the next in 2022.

The proposal from the mayor’s office budgets the cash through 2024. It was drafted in consultation with the Pittsburgh Recovery Task Force, a group formed by council. It includes the mayor’s office and council members Theresa Kail-Smith, R. Daniel Lavelle and Ricky Burgess.

The task force was formed to “use a racial equity lens” to make decisions about how to use the money.

Council approves any spending by the city and members have pledged to use a public process that includes gathering community input before they make a final decision.

In light of the infusion of cash, council will reopen the 2021 budget. Without the federal funds, the city would have had to lay off more than 600 employees in July because of a cash shortage.

The coronavirus pandemic caused a dip in city revenues in 2020. Officials used about $120 million of the city’s reserves to cover them.

That’s the reason $112.8 million of the federal money is projected to be used to fund the cuts that were projected if the relief money was not approved.

The plan also calls for $5.2 million for 3% wage increases for nonunion employees, $20 million to restore cuts the city made in 2020 by not filling vacant positions and $1.8 million for public works department staffing.

“We have worked hard to put together a package that addresses Pittsburgh’s needs both now and in the near future,” Burgess said.

In addition to the immediate funding needs, the proposed allocations include $7 million for the Avenues of Hope program of the city’s Urban Redevelopment Authority, which aims to revitalize business corridors in the city’s Black neighborhoods.

The plan also includes $2 million for other development in Homewood, $1 million for the Jasmine Nyree Campus in Sheraden that helps people with special needs and $1 million for the Gladstone School affordable housing development in Hazelwood.

The funding for these projects and programs will provide what Burgess called “transformational investment” in the city’s Black communities.

“You’ll see resources invested in at-risk communities,” Burgess said.

The plan was crafted using the city’s P4 principles framework — investing in “people, planet, place and performance,” according to a statement from Peduto’s office.

It also allocates $21 million for the OwnPGH program, designed to encourage people who otherwise couldn’t buy a home to do so; $10 million for the city’s Land Bank; and $5 million to protect existing affordable housing in the city.

Other highlights of the plan include:

• $2 million to create fund to support local artists who were impacted by covid and to provide more music and arts programs in the city.

• $19 million in improvements to the city’s recreation centers

• $20 million to Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority for lead removal programs

• $3.5 million to forgive small business loans from the Urban Redevelopment Authority during the pandemic

• $1 million to help businesses make their outside eating areas.

•$12 million for 8,000 new LED streetlights

• $2 million for the new Davis Avenue Bridge in Brighton Heights

• $2.5 million for the North Avenue streetscape rehabilitation project

• $1 million for new sidewalks on Irvine Street in Hazelwood

The proposal will be formally introduced to city council Tuesday and a public hearing will be held before council takes action on it, Kail-Smith said.

“We’re waiting to hear from the public and then we’ll make some decisions,” she said.

Tom Davidson is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tom at 724-226-4715, [email protected] or via Twitter .

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