(Pittsburgh) May 31, 2018 Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner today released her annual reports on County finances, and said that the County’s financial stability has put it in position to make needed investments in vulnerable populations.
Wagner said the County’s fastest-growing costs are in Human Services and Jail Operations, costs fueled by hopelessness and lack of opportunity among County residents who have not benefitted from the region’s economic resurgence.
She said that County spending–including from underutilized funds dedicated to reducing air pollution, supporting public transit, and funding affordable housing–must be targeted where the biggest impact can be made. She also called for attention to planning for the needs of an aging population, with those 65 and older expected to comprise one-fifth of County residents in the near future.
“With the strong fiscal position we have built together, we do not have to hope for a white knight to ride into our region in order to provide greater opportunity. The same collaborative, regional vision that has been applied to transformational projects like the upcoming $1 billion modernization of our Airport should applied to the project of lifting up all of our residents,” Wagner wrote in her Popular Annual Financial Report (PAFR).
“By focusing existing resources on areas of greatest need, turning to our citizens and communities to identify where to direct these resources, and continued strong oversight of our public dollars, we can build from within and project Allegheny County’s strength to those with talent and resources to invest in our future.”
The PAFR, an easily understandable presentation of County finances and other information for the general public, draws on data from the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR), the official annual accounting of financial data for the County and its component units. Both reports are available online at www.AlleghenyController.com.
The General Fund balance–which was largely depleted when Controller Wagner and the current County administration took office in 2012–has reached an all-time high of more than $84 million, although its growth has slowed in recent years. While outstanding debt decreased during 2017, debt levels still stand at more than $700 for each County resident. Wagner said the robust fund balance should be considered as the County weighs taking on new debt to address building maintenance and landslide issues.
The funded position of the County’s Pension Fund improved due to favorable market conditions, though it remains below 50 percent, and an upward trend in benefit payments is cautionary. Improvements in funded status due to changes to benefit calculations in Act 125 have not yet begun to materialize.
The PAFR also highlights areas in which the Controller’s office has provided oversight of County functions throughout 2017 in pursuit of Controller Wagner’s goals of innovation, transparency, efficiency and accountability.
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