Finds areas of concern underlying generally strong fiscal, economic conditions.

(Pittsburgh) May 30, 2019 Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner today issued her Popular Annual Financial Report (PAFR), an assessment and overview of Allegheny County’s financial picture and its impact on our residents and communities.

In the report, Wagner says that County finances track closely with the region’s overall economic climate–generally positive, but with underlying conditions worthy of concern.

While economic indicators including wages, income, and employment have been positive, continuing decreases in the County’s population, income gaps between white and minority residents, and wide disparities in investment and growth among communities present impediments to long-term growth, the report says.

“While some parts of the County have seen an enormous amount of new development, in some cases leading to the displacement of residents as housing costs rise, others continue to suffer from decades of disinvestment and entrenched poverty. Many of these same struggling communities are afflicted by acute air quality issues and the related health effects, and poor access to public transit that limits economic prospects. The key for the coming years will be to find ways to bridge these gaps in growth and opportunity,” Wagner wrote.

Similarly, while the County’s unassigned fund balance has continued to grow and ratings from finance agencies continue to improve, pension and debt liabilities are up and cost drivers like County Jail operations continue to rise.
“Innovative policy and targeted investments that reduce incarceration, especially for those simply awaiting trial, must be made,” Wagner wrote.

“Our region must also confront the implications of the continued growth of tax-exempt ‘charity’ entities, especially in the health care sector, as major employers and property developers. While these entities are drivers of job creation and innovation, studies have shown health outcomes in the region worsening relative to the nation in some respects despite their presence, and many thousands of County residents may soon be stripped of affordable access to entities they have subsidized with their own tax dollars. Whether highly profitable entities should continue to be absolved of taxes while failing to provide access and benefits to the entire community is a discussion we must pursue.”

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, the official annual accounting of financial data for the County and its component units. Both reports are available online at AlleghenyController.com.
The report also highlights areas in which the Controller’s office has provided oversight of County functions throughout 2018 in pursuit of Controller Wagner’s goals of innovation, transparency, efficiency and accountability.
View the Popular Annual Financial Report (PAFR) for 2018 here.