PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - Pittsburgh Mayor Ed Gainey released his preliminary 2023 city budget this morning with a particular focus on infrastructure.
This is the mayor's first budget after nearly a year under his belt.
Utilizing online interactions with citizens across the city, Gainey says he and his staff have developed a budget that responds to the needs of residents.
"We had a historic engagement in our budget process, including a 500 percent in the utilization of our online survey, Engage Pittsburgh. We had 67 neighborhoods out of 90 represented, and more than 1,000 project ideas were generated," says Gainey.
Gainey says his final budget – to be presented to the city council in November – will reflect the priorities of city residents through public hearings, surveys, and online engagement.
"Infrastructure is the number one priority," says the mayor. "With the collapse of the Fern Hollow Bridge less than 100 days into entering office, my administration learned firsthand the critical investment that was needed for the city's infrastructure. Residents also prioritized the environment, housing, physical mobility, and equity, in that order."
The mayor said he was creating a bridge maintenance unit to conduct day-to-day bridge repairs – a bridge and structures unit for rapid engineering for bridge rehabilitation or replacement – and a walls and slopes unit focused on landslides.
"When we invest in our city's critical infrastructure, we are investing in making sure our neighborhoods are safe for everyone who lives there. Every neighborhood should be safe."
Gainey, who was up in the cab of a snowplow during his early days in office, pledged more money for snow removal this winter.
"We are investing an additional $4 million in staffing and equipment in the Department of Public Works to dramatically increase our capacity to respond to snow events in the winter and overcome a backlog of maintenance in vacant lots and public space in the summer."
Although operating budget spending next year is up $45 million dollars over this year's estimate, the preliminary city budget projects a budget surplus of $29 million which means no new city taxes in 2023.
The mayor said he's committed to making Pittsburgh the safest city in America.
"Public safety is one of the most important issues that we have taken on in our administration," says Gainey.
The city's police budget will be increased by over three million dollars, which includes vehicle upgrades, body cameras for police, and new radios in all departments.
The mayor said to better respond to citizen concerns he is moving the 3-1-1 non-emergency response line into his office.
"Our office of neighborhood services within the mayor's office will now be the new home of 311. By working together, community engagement and resident services will be improved."
With the help of federal dollars from the American Rescue Plan passed by congressional Democrats and President Biden last year, there is no deficit in the proposed operating budget of $657 million and the proposed capital budget of $147 million.
"I believe this budget that we introduced today helps us become the safest city in America, a city where everyone feels welcome, and a city where everyone who lives here has the ability to thrive here," says Gainey.
Again, this is a preliminary budget. The formal budget will be presented by the mayor to city council in November, which can add or subtract items, as they wish.
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