Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Just say no to pie charts - Act 47 version

Most are tuned out to the machinations of the current debate over the City of Pittsburgh's municipal budget. In particular the debates over the proposed 5 year Act 47 plan. Even if you are not so concerned with the city budget directly, this all has lots of implications across the state and for other cities into the future.

Without much more comment than that. In lots of ways these graphics speak for themselves. This is the current 2009 budget of the City of Pittsburgh expressed with the help of IBM's Manyeyes site. You can click either of the graphics to get the full interactive version of each.

2009 City of Pittsburgh Budget Expenditures





2009 City of Pittsburgh Budget Revenues






15 Comments:

Anonymous MH said...

So, the $52/year that people working in the city have to kick in is 2/3rd of the 3% of the income of everyone in the city. Or am I misunderstanding what "Payroll Preparation Tax" is?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009 11:11:00 PM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

The $52 flat tax is called the local services tax... used to be called the emergency services fee. It is different from the payroll preparation tax which is a 1% paid by non tax-exempt employers. So I believe you are not impacted by it at all. The payroll preparation tax was put in as a result of the first Act 47 plan and does act a bit as a commuter tax since it hits jobs located in the city no matter where the employee lives... The LST is the smaller circle to the bottom right of the 'payroll preparation tax' circle. Not a comment on your question, but it is amazing how many folks out there I have talked to have no idea the payroll preparation tax was put in place...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009 11:21:00 PM  
Blogger Andrea said...

what does it look like if you don't break the payroll benefits and pensions into their own category of expenditure, and instead put them into the departments the staff work in? and/or, could we separate the benefits being paid to current retirees from the benefits being paid to current employees?

it just makes it hard to understand what's left in the departmental categories, the way it's now represented. no?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009 12:24:00 AM  
Anonymous MH said...

I certainly hadn't heard of it. But, of course, it does impact me. While I'm happy to see a tax that hits commuters, if I bought the line that having my employer pay a tax based on my salary, somebody would figure out how to cut sales taxes by making them payable by the retailer.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009 12:27:00 AM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

Not sure if there is any confusion. The Payroll Prep tax is not paid by all employers. Only those not tax exempt. So for example, my paycheck does not generate any of this tax because my employer is tax exempt.

I do think it would be more useful to at least break out that one large expenditure at least into its component parts of pension, workers comp etc.. Allocating it back into departments would be an exercise for someone with the data. That would be useful, but I actually think its useful to think of it seperate from the operating budgets per se. The pension expenditures would be for retirees for the most part. The other parts I would have to look at it some more.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009 12:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Vannevar said...

I was struck by the symmetry in the two visuals, so I overlayed them with some transparency. Geek details: I resized so the $130M Pension Expense would be the same size as the $128M RealEstate Revenue, then figured I was within 1%. I moved some of the spheres for alignment.

It was interesting to see what mapped to what, although I realize it's not necessarily done that way.

There's an image at:
http://www.thirdwave-websites.com/blog/090624.jpg
(I have no idea how to put an image in Comments).

Cheers, Vannevar.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009 12:45:00 AM  
Blogger Bram Reichbaum said...

Whatever is supposed to speak for itself, I'm not sure that it is -- unless your point is that even if the City "focused on public safety and public works", those are still essentially our greatest expenditures already (along with the debt and pension obligations we can't schluff off on the county).

And this isn't my area of expertise, but $15.5 million for Finance? What goes into that besides salaries for personnel? How is Finance so much bigger than say, Law?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009 7:22:00 AM  
Blogger C. Briem said...

tax collection can be intenstive expecially given all the different taxes the city is forced to rely on. Everything pertaining to real estate has impacts on finance I bet. It's not just the few folks making the pie charts. Probably more financial issues for a municipality than for a private sector entity of the same size so 15mil for a 400 mil+ operation I don't think is out of line. I wonder if they had more substantial financial operation they could say do better at tax collection. Note the controllers budget as well which has been cut an awful lot via the act 47 process. They used to do a lot more, things like support for assessment appeals for homeowners.. things that I suspect they just couldnt manage much of now given how much their budget has been cut.

I do suspect that underfunding legal support has been a long term failing, and a net financial cost, on the part of the city. but that is a bigger topic.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009 7:57:00 AM  
Anonymous MH said...

"Only those not tax exempt."

You're right, it doesn't affect me. One cheer for tax exempt R1 universities. (Two cheers were deducted for the freeze in the salary pool.)

Wednesday, June 24, 2009 10:47:00 AM  
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