Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner today announced that she has filed legal action against the Airport Authority, Port Authority, Sanitary Authority (ALCOSAN), and Sports and Exhibition Authority (SEA). The law suit comes after all four authorities have consistently failed to comply with audits, after Wagner had provided each Authority with multiple opportunities to cooperate. The four Authorities have until April 6 to defend or object to the action for declaratory judgment.
The declaratory judgment action requests that a judge declare that the Controller is permitted to perform an audit of each Authority and that each Authority must comply. It details that each Authority is a municipal authority of Allegheny County and that the allocation of their resources impacts the fiscal affairs of Allegheny County.  Specifically, the suit points out that the Controller is independently elected and vested with broad powers, which include, “general supervision and control of the fiscal affairs of the county and of the accounts and official acts of all officers or other persons who shall collect, receive or distribute the public moneys of the county, or who shall be charged with the management and custody thereof.” 
“If there is nothing to hide, why are they hiding?” Wagner said. “This represents a crossroads for Allegheny County government and taxpayers. These authorities spend almost $1 billion per year. It is time for this government to operate in the light of day, and live by the principles of transparency and accountability that it claims to espouse. These attempts to keep government records confidential are a slap in the face to every taxpayer of Allegheny County. It is time for Allegheny County to step out of the smoke-filled rooms of old time politics and bring our government up with the times. We cannot claim we are a City, County or region that is forward-thinking and moving into the future, when our government is stuck in the past.”   
The County Administration and the four Authorities have claimed that the Controller may only perform financial audits and that she must be invited in to audit Authorities and County departments. In a previous letter, the County Solicitor contended the Controller is merely “chief bookkeeper.” In contesting Wagner’s authority to conduct “performance audits” of County operations, the Authorities and the County Administration have claimed that the Controller should only do financial statement audits.
Wagner said, “They are claiming the only role of the Controller is to make sure the checkbook matches the bank statement. They want to keep auditing standards in the dark ages.  Why hide?”  Wagner added that performance audits are the gold standard of auditing.
Controller Wagner has been working for months to initiate audits at the Authorities, but has been met with resistance from each in a consistent pattern. Despite cooperative meetings she conducted with representatives of three of the authorities (the SEA, Airport Authority and ALCOSAN), each Authority thereafter retracted. All four Authorities then claimed that they are not subject to the Controller’s audits. In January, Wagner generously offered a final deadline extension for each authority to submit to the audit requests by February 2, or she would resort to legal action. None of the four cooperated.
The combined operating and capital budgets of these authorities amount to $854,191,076, nearly $1 billion, as follows:  Airport Authority, $140,268,069; ALCOSAN, $125,710,109; SEA, $16,132,649 (SEA’s 2014 budget); Port Authority, $572,080,249.