(Pittsburgh) November 30, 2017 About $25 million remains in two pots of funding created by casino fees and revenue, and closer oversight is required to make sure this money produces the greatest impact for County residents, Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner says in two audits and a “Taxpayer Alert” issued today.
The Community Infrastructure and Tourism Fund (CITF) and Gaming Economic Development and Tourism Fund (GEDTF) are both administered by the County’s Department of Economic Development (ACED), and fund projects intended to create jobs, improve infrastructure, or promote tourism. About $71 million was awarded to more than 400 projects through 2016. No new funding is expected to be available after 2019.
But the audits found that a lack of meaningful project evaluation and oversight identified in previous audits in 2014 continues to exist. For instance, there is no written documentation showing criteria listed in program guidelines are considered, no follow-up is performed to confirm job creation or retention projections, and ACED staff does not verify compliance with prevailing wage requirements on applicable projects.
“The impending exhaustion of these funds requires that the money that remains be utilized to have the greatest possible impact. This once-in-a-generation opportunity cannot be squandered,” Wagner said. “Projects must be evaluated carefully and held to the requirements of their grants and their promises to the taxpayers.”
Wagner’s report suggests water and sewer infrastructure improvements that are expected to cost ratepayers billions in the coming years as a priority use of the remaining funding.