When Bill Peduto reorganized the administration of his office shortly after being sworn in as mayor, he highlighted the diversity of his new executive team: Hispanic, Asian, Black and even “green.”
Now, it turns out that funding was never secured to pay two of them—Chief Urban Affairs Officer Valerie McDonald Roberts and Chief Education and Neighborhood Reinvestment Officer Curtiss Porter, the two African-American executives.
Both positions were created as part of Peduto’s new Bureau of Neighborhood Empowerment, which also contains the Equal Opportunity Review Commission. Six months ago, the mayor said contributions from foundations would cover half the two top administrators’ salaries. But, the city has not received any such funding and doesn’t even have a signed agreement with any potential donors.
Neither Porter nor Roberts responded to requests for comment.
Peduto’s spokesman Tim McNulty admitted it doesn’t look good, but said Porter and Roberts are, of course, being paid their $102,543 salaries. It’s just that the city now has a $205,086 hole in its budget. But that’s temporary, he said.
“We have until the end of the year to secure the funding,” said McNulty. “We’re confident the money will be there.”
The mayor’s other executive team members either occupy established positions or combinations of existing positions. For example, there has always been a city solicitor; Lourdes Sanchez Ridge now fills that position.
As chief operations officer, however, Guy Costa administers departments that previously had their own operations directors or managers—Public Works, Parks and Recreation, the Water and Sewer Authority and the Parking Authority. This has eliminated seven such positions in Public Works alone.
McNulty said the issue with the two salaries is partly a result of the positions being new, and of the mayor trying to do things with the foundations in a new way. Talent City, the job candidate vetting initiative, is being funded with $275,000 from local foundations. McNulty said the mayor is hoping to get $20 million per year in foundation and other nonprofit contributions.
The 2014 budget, however, estimates the city will receive $2.09 million in nonprofit payments in lieu of taxes. After budgeting for nearly $3.2 million in nonprofits payments for 2013, the city actually received only $1.94 million.
“The mayor is proposing doing things in a different way, not just shoveling money into the black hole of the general fund but targeted spending on things they support,” said McNulty. “We’re doing a lot with the foundations that’s new. We believe in these partnerships. They just take a little longer, but it’s worth it.”
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