Pittsburgh 2 degrees rule - pension edition
Is not the state of the city's pension system the single biggest policy issue impacting the city of Pittsburgh now and into the future? Not just the size of the liability, but it's intractability that makes it issue #1. Nowadays it is driving the entire effort to monetize all of the parking assets currently owned by the Pittsburgh Parking Authority. Impacts go beyond the city of course. Just one example: Legacy costs facing the city of Pittbsurgh may be the single biggest thing in the way of further city county consolidation and a host of other things that can't be addressed as long as there is a billion dollar elephant in the room. I say it all ties together. I want to make one of those omnibus schematics that are in vogue to show how all the financial problems in the region are connected.... but that is beyond me for the moment.
Yet for what is arguably the biggest policy issue in town... how much does anyone really ever know about the pension system? I challenge anyone to find much useful information on the pension system on the city web site. You may have to work harder than you should just to find any the web page for the pension system at all.. and when you do there isn't much there that has been updated in 3 years, or so it seems to me. We are now, and have been for some time, way behind that paragon of fiscal responsibility: Detroit, in terms of how much transprency the pension system has. I've pointed out before the web site of the Retirement Systems of the City of Detroit. Lots of info there down to the minutes of their pension board meetings, a recent annual report, even all their past auditor's reports. Anything remotely like that here? For just about any local government around? I know there are some, but not many.
Look at the Detroit site. It shows that transparency is not about funky web sites, nor gimmicky of any kind. I actually suspect that Detroit page was written in MS Front Page or something equally dated. Yet it has infinitely more data on it than what we have here.
Anyway. Could go on forever on the numbers themselves. All that is just my preface to the longer wonkish jeremiad that needs to be written. I've updated most of my iPension page for those who want the gory details on the state of the city's pension system. Could obsess on each chart I suppose. Some other day.
I've said it before, but I'll say it again. It's a web site that ought not to exist. There is nothing there that the city couldn't put online tomorrow if it wanted to with no more cost than a few hours of an intern's time. Beyond that and for the moment those numbers will have to mostly speak for themselves.