Councilman Suggests Rainy Day Fund

May 7, 2012

Allegheny County Councilman William Robinson is writing legislation to propose a "Rainy Day" fund in response to 2011's Comprehensive Annual Finance Report (CAFR) released by the Allegheny County Controller's Office last week. Robinson, who chairs the Budget and Finance Committee, explained that the fund will have strict restrictions and specifications regarding when County Council will be able to use it.

"Cut some thin pieces off our revenues," Robinson said. "Cut some thin slices off our fees and put them in a Rainy Day fund, and over a period of time that stack is going to be pretty high."

Robinson said the fund will be modeled off of the one that is established at the state level, and explained it will not be an operational fund, so it will constantly increase until guidelines are met to withdraw from the account.

"It's raining in Allegheny County," Robinson said. "It's raining hard, but we don't have a fund to address that."

Robinson suggests that the County still needs more money to pay 2012's bills because the $6 million in the Fund Balance is not enough to do so. He says all options need to be considered to raise revenue, including a tax increase.

"I don't see how we avoid discussing [raising taxes]," Robinson said. "We have to consider it again among all the options we have to raise the necessary revenues to pay our bills for this year, and in my opinion, prepare ourselves for the future."

Other options he suggests involve increasing all county fees, cutting back on discount programs, and collecting outstanding debts, but he said the Rainy Day will be the solution down the road.

"We cannot fee our way into fiscal solvency," Robinson said. "We need long-term fiscal planning money management to get us where we need to be."