February 26, 2011
The city of Pittsburgh’s patchwork system for managing its key functions is outdated and in need of replacement.
This is not news. City Controller Michael Lamb and the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority — the city’s state-appointed financial overseers — have been saying so for years. Since 2006, the ICA has approved city budgets with the condition that officials develop and implement an integrated, computerized system to manage its finances, account, payroll, customer relations and human resources data.
By 2009, everybody involved seemed to agree that folding the city into Allegheny County’s system made the most sense. City officials said they had reached the long-sought deal and were working out terms for adding the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority. As recently as December, City Council authorized spending up to $10 million for a system that could be shared by all three entities and other authorities.
At this late stage, city officials are balking, saying in effect that they’re being pressured into buying a Cadillac when a subcompact would do the job.
Rather than spending $9 million on the joint system, city officials want to join with the water authority for $3.3 million instead. But that system isn’t even developed yet.
Taxpayers have waited long enough.
City Council approved the expenditure, the ICA put its stamp on it and the delays are costly. The ICA already is withholding $13.3 million in gaming revenue from 2009 and 2010, and it could keep back future tax revenue from the city as well. We say keep up the pressure.
A modern city must have an efficient method of tracking its expenditures, its services and its employees. Pittsburgh’s is long overdue.