Mayor’s 2020 budget focuses heavily on construction

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Mayor’s 2020 budget focuses heavily on construction

Kristen Kaelin, North Campus Editor

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On Sept 30, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto released his preliminary 2020 budget proposals, one for operational spending and another for potential capital projects. The proposed budget doesn’t include any increase in real estate tax. The city’s operating budget is proposed to receive a roughly $31 million increase to cover an extra paycheck for city employees.

Tim McNulty, city spokesman, says the budget office is already prepared to cover the expense, based on reporting from TribLive. A proposed tax increase on deed transfers is planned to cover a project to improve public housing availability. Minor budgetary shifts allocate tax revenue to different expenditures than their 2019 uses. Concerning the capital projects budget for 2020, Peduto has a lot planned.

The section labelled “Construction and Engineering” contains the highest number of project proposals at 26, with administrative projects in second-place at 18. Proposed construction projects include repairs to many bridges and sets of city steps, as well as improvements to public sidewalks and a continuation of the “Complete Streets” project. The “Complete Streets” program is the most expensive item in the projects proposal at just over $20 million, and is focused on green transportation and traffic reduction.

In addition to “Complete Streets,” the construction budget has another broad road construction plan, under the justification that “adequately maintained streets are a core city service.”  This section, aptly titled “Street Resurfacing,” shows up in the budget every year as a city-wide funding pool for yearly wear and tear. The allocated funding for the 2020 resurfacing is nearly $800,000 lower than it was this year. Not specifically featured as a construction project is an initiative to repair the city’s blossoming sinkhole problem.

Record levels of rainfall in the first half of the year worsened a recurring increase in erosion and landslides during the spring and early summer. Continued flooding further destabilized local earth, leading to an uncommon number of sinkholes in places like the North Side, and, recently, Downtown Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh streets recently made national headlines when a Port Authority bus was swallowed by a sinkhole on Penn Avenue. It’s likely, though uncertain, that this development will change the projected construction budget.