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Fitzgerald budget has no county tax increase

 


Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald has released the 2017 Comprehensive Fiscal Plan and presented his budget address to County Council.

The $880.3 million budget calls for no tax increase and does not include any one-time revenues to balance the operating budget for the fifth consecutive year. The 2017 budget holds growth at 2.9 percent over last year.

“I’m extremely proud to present a budget today that has no tax increase, and continues to build on the stable fiscal condition of the county,” said Mr. Fitzgerald. “There is a great deal of hard work that goes into ensuring that we stay within budget and address unexpected costs that occur throughout the year.”

Among the highlights in the proposed budget:

• With the creation, and planned 2017 opening, of a 45-bed Memory Care Unit at the McKeesport Kane Regional Center, the county will be able to address a growing need for this services, and expects that it will also have a positive impact on the county’s budget. The Kane Regional Centers will also invest in the continued implementation of the electronic medical records system as a tool to improve patient care.

• Cost savings and efficiencies are expected with the consolidation of facilities management for the buildings of the Family Court, Medical Examiner and Shuman Center. Work will be done in-house, while still providing quality, efficient services.

• Once again, the budget focuses on ensuring services are available to the most vulnerable in the community. For 2017, Human Services will be able to drawn down an additional $6 million with the county’s increased match.

• This year’s budget incorporates county funding for CountyStats. Initially funded by grants from the R.K. Mellon Foundation and The Heinz Endowments, this team will now be incorporated into the County Manager’s office. The team uses data science and analytics to lead efficiencies and operational improvements in the county.

The proposed capital budget totals $105.95 million and includes 83 different infrastructure and capital improvement projects including the bridge program, roads program, paving program, equipment purchases and the Port Authority Program. Of particular note is the replacement of the Courthouse roof, including granite, tile and metal surfaces. The budget also includes a full year of funding from the vehicle registration fee which has enabled Public Works to expand the number of roads being repaired and repaved, as well as provide matching funds on bridge projects.

Allegheny County is responsible for maintaining 521 bridges – 191 major structures (20 ft. to 3,100 ft.), 149 minor structures (8 ft. to 20 ft.) and 181 bridges and culverts (less than 8 ft.). The capital budget for the Bridge Program is $42.66 million which includes continued work on the Andy Warhol Bridge (Seventh Street) and the Philip Murray Bridge (South 10th Street).

Allegheny County is also responsible for maintaining 408 miles of inter-municipal roads. The Roads Program is budgeted at $17.43 million with funding directed toward county road reconstruction projects, lateral support projects, and the In-House Paving Program.

• The Buildings Program is budgeted at $17.15 million for 2017, which includes the comprehensive replacement of roofs on the Courthouse and a major rehabilitation of Clack Building No. 1 which is occupied by the Health Department. The majority of general government and court services provided by the county are housed in seven county-owned buildings located in downtown. The buildings account for 1.6 million square feet of public and office space, with five of the buildings being historic landmarks of national or regional significance.

• The Port Authority Program includes $9.87 million in funding for acquisition, construction and improvement of the public transportation system. County funding represents 3 1/3 percent of the cost of a project and is match by state (16 2/3 percent) and federal (80 percent) funds. The funding will cover improvements and upgrades to the authority’s fixed facilities and rolling fleet.

• The Parks Program is budgeted at $5.76 million with continued founding for upgrading the swimming pools and shelters within the park system, as well as restroom renovations and an upgrade of the maintenance equipment used throughout the county parks.

• Additionally, the capital budget contains $12.72 million in equipment purchases to upgrade outdated computer equipment, replace heavy maintenance equipment and vehicles, and improve the 9-1-1 record management system.

The full 2017 Comprehensive Fiscal Plan can be found online at http://www.alleghenycounty.us/budget-finance/comprehensive-fiscal-plan.aspx.

Allegheny County Council will hold budget hearings on the proposed capital and operating budgets in November. The county’s Home Rule Charter requires that Council must adopt balanced annual operating and capital budgets 25 days before the end of the fiscal year.

 

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