PITTSBURGH – Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald today released the 2014 Comprehensive Fiscal Plan and presented his budget address to County Council. The $817.3 million budget calls for no tax increase, includes no one-time revenues for the second consecutive year, and holds growth at 2.2% over last year, the increases mainly being due to wage, benefit and health care costs. The Executive has also proposed a $50.4 million capital budget.
“While the County faced a number of fiscal challenges in the past year, there have also been many successes,” said County Executive Fitzgerald acknowledging County Council’s role in those successes. “In 2013, the County saw our bond rating outlook raised, a growth in our fund balance from $5.7 million to $12.2 million and continued diligence from the county manager on down to control our costs and allocate county resources wisely.”
Among the highlights in the proposed budget:
- The proposed Human Services budget will allow Children, Youth & Families to maximize state funding as approved in the annual Needs Based Budget allocation to continue the current level of operations; the Department serves more than 200,000 county residents each year
- Human Resources, Budget and Finance, and Law each include proposed increases in their budgets as the Departments provide support and service to all other departments and divisions within the county through a centralized function; this effort will provide for consistencies, as well as streamlined and organized functions for Human Resources matters
- Human Resources, specifically, continues to modernize under the new Director; online applications are now accepted by the county, the workers’ compensation function is under the Department’s jurisdiction, and the Department is beginning an initiative to monitor the Family Medical & Leave Act in the same way
- The largest increase is in the Department of Emergency Services; although the county has carried a deficit for years, recent changes to a state fund has resulted in an increased cost of $5.2 million in this fiscal year and an expected $6.2 million for 2014
The proposed capital budget totals $50.4 million and includes 105 different infrastructure and capital improvement projects including the bridge program, roads program, paving program, equipment purchases and the Port Authority Program.
- The Bridge Program includes $1.7 million in Act 13 highway bridge funding from the state’s Marcellus Shale Legacy Fund for at-risk, deteriorated bridges within the county
- The Port Authority Program totals $9.89 million and includes funds for improvements and upgrades to fixed facilities and fleets; the proposal designates $1 million initial funding for the planning, design and construction of a rapid bus lane between downtown Pittsburgh and Oakland
The County Executive also provided Council with a preview of initiatives that the County will be undertaking in 2014 including launching a pilot program for online reservation of shelters and groves in the county parks. He also indicated that the administration is looking at multiple ways to utilize technology that will improve residents’ experiences and interactions with the county.
County Executive Fitzgerald also announced that in a continued effort to enhance services and provide additional recreational opportunities, the County is entering into a public-private partnership for the specialized service of snow-making with the intent of increasing the number of dates the Boyce Park Ski Slopes will be open for during the 2013-14 ski season. The contract will allow for the reallocation of county employees who can focus on deferred maintenance.
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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