- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 5, 2016

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto is calling for a forensic audit to recreate financial records and spending by an authority the state Legislature created in 2004 to oversee the city’s then-failing finances.

Peduto called for the audit after the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority didn’t have financial records for most of its expenditures since 2010, and that the group’s executive director couldn’t locate a record of checks written between 2004 and 2009.

“You cannot operate a business by destroying your financial records,” Peduto said. “Our role isn’t to be the investigator, but we have a right to ask for the release of all the information we’ve been seeking for years.”

The authority is exempt from the state’s open records law, under the legislation that created it, said state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale. The ICA didn’t turn over many of the records requested when his office audited the ICA in November, DePasquale said.

“We didn’t know they were missing. We just knew we asked for it and didn’t get it,” DePasquale said, adding the lack of open records accountability is a problem, too.

“It’s another example of what happens when Harrisburg passes a law and they don’t think about all the consequences or think through all the details,” DePasquale said.

The authority was created to help Pittsburgh avoid bankruptcy when the city was nearly $1 billion in debt. The city has continued to answer to the ICA and a separate board under Act 47, which governs financially distressed municipalities.

The city has been sparring with the ICA’s decision to withhold revenues that Peduto said the city is owed from its share of taxes on the Rivers Casino in the city.

The ICA turned over $2.9 million in January, but the city was supposed to be getting about $10 million a year, city officials have said. The figure set to rise to $20 million in the next few months, city and ICA officials have told the Tribune-Review.

The ICA’s executive director has declined comment.

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