Put your tax dollars to work
Last updated 8/18/2014 at 6:20pm
We pay taxes to keep our city, state and country running smoothly. But where does it all go? And who decides what our priorities are for spending those dollars? We do that (and more!) with our City of Pittsburgh Operating and Capital budgets. The budgets outline, in clear detail for all to see, how we plan to spend tax dollars the following year.
Each year around this time, we begin craft the budget for the next year. While this may sound about as exciting as getting vaccinated, it is deeply important for Pittsburgh’s future financial health. In addition, my office uses our annual budgets to hold the mayor, city departments, and ourselves accountable to our budgetary commitments. How do we hold ourselves accountable? We get citizens engaged and active in the process. We solicit input from residents to determine the city’s financial priorities and help us stick to them.
Since I was first elected to council in 2009, I have been focused on getting citizens and government on the same page and working from the same information to build a better city together. In 2010, I passed a bill called the Neighborhoods First Capital Budget Reform Act.
Simply put, I wanted to see clarity and transparency in how we spend our tax revenue. I felt that since my constituents work hard and pay their fair share, it was high time they have a say in where their tax dollars are spent. This law also created the Capital Program Facilitation Committee (CPFC), with the goals of finding efficiencies, increasing transparency, and finding ways to save money.
Our city budget is split into two categories; Operating and Capital Budgets.
The Operating Budget is what keeps the city running on a day-to-day basis. This portion of our budget is spent on overhead costs like rent, utilities, and salaries. This is how we pay to clean the streets, to pay employees, and to keep the lights on.
The Capital Budget refers to investing in infrastructure, like paving, parks maintenance and community development. With good planning, our capital investments make the city a better, more livable place for all. But how does the city ensure that this money is spent on true priorities? We can only do that with plenty of input from our neighbors!
The Capital Budget Hearings are our chance as Pittsburghers to weigh in on our budget. This is our opportunity to share our fiscal priorities, thoughts, concerns. These hearings will be held this fall; at the end of September at the Ammon Rec Center, 2217 Bedford Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15226 412-255-2501, and at the end of October at the Morningside Rec Center, 6944 President Way Pittsburgh, PA 15206-1134.
The dates have not yet been announced, but you can follow our office on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/PghDistrict4), Twitter (https://twitter.com/nataliarudiak), or subscribe to the South Pittsburgh e-mail newsletter, so you are aware of all the important community meetings: http://www.pittsburghpa.gov/mypgh/signup.htm?mode=f&f=45.
You can also call our office: 412-255-2131 for the dates and times of these meetings.
The only way to ensure that our voices are heard is to pay attention and get involved! We need you to tell us how you want your tax dollars spent. As elected officials our goal is to truly representing all of Pittsburgh. Please take a moment to submit your priorities to us online http://pittsburghpa.gov/district4/contact or mail a letter to our office: The Office of Councilmember Natalia Rudiak, 510 City County Building, 414 Grant Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15219.
District 4 Councilmember