Pittsburgh controller says the city must collect the parks tax but needs to add more internal controls before it does

As the Pittsburgh City Council is nearing a vote on whether to start collecting a parks tax that voters approved by referendum last year, City Controller Michael Lamb said the city has no choice but to start collecting the tax. "At this point, I think council has got to move forward with this and I think they are legally required to move forward with this," Lamb said. "I don't think there is too much wiggle room in getting out of it given the wording of the referendum." PublicSource reported last month that at least two city councilors preferred not to collect the tax at all. But Lamb said at a press conference Thursday that his understanding is that the council will vote to start collecting the tax in 2021.

Baxter Parklet.

Pittsburgh’s parks tax that prioritized equity likely won’t be collected this year, despite equity protests and a rise in park use

The political context of the parks tax has changed considerably since March. The original debate over the tax centered around what it meant to spend the money equitably. Since then, Black Lives Matter protests across Pittsburgh have put the issue of equity front-and-center, drawing attention — and often support —  from council.

UPMC's logo atop the U.S. Steel Tower, Downtown, as seen from Webster Avenue in the Hill District. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

UPMC could captain nursing home COVID response under bill it helped to write

Update (7/14/20): UPMC will lead the charge to test all southwestern Pennsylvania care home residents and employees for COVID-19, and to strengthen the facilities' ability to fight the virus, the state Department of Human Services announced. The department announced that UPMC will also join the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine in working with facilities in the state's northwest. Efforts in other regions of the state will be led by Thomas Jefferson University with the University of Pennsylvania (southeast), Geisinger Clinic and Lehigh Valley Hospital (northeast), Pennsylvania State University (southcentral) and Geisinger Clinic (northcentral). UPMC has applied to lead a $52.5 million state-funded effort to harden nursing homes and similar facilities — from Pittsburgh to Erie — against COVID-19. A decision from the state Department of Human Services on the contract is expected this week.

What did Allegheny County spend on salaries and overtime in 2019? Explore the data.

After five years of increases, overtime costs for Allegheny County dropped roughly 2% in 2019. Spending dropped from $30.1 million in 2018 to $29.5 million last year.

Overtime costs, however, have increased during the pandemic. The county spent about $700,000 more in overtime from March through May this year, compared to the same period in 2019, according to Allegheny County Budget and Finance Department Director Mary Soroka.