Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald presented his 2014 budget to the County Council Tuesday evening.
Fitzgerald was visibly proud of the fact that Allegheny County will not be increasing property taxes in the county for the 12th time in 13 years.
He said the stabilized millage has contributed to the region’s success over the past few years.
“We’re the only county in America over the last five years that has seen property values go up every single year,” Fitzgerald said. “By holding the line on taxes and stabilizing them, it encourages investment both at the residential level and the commercial level, and contributes to the growth and vitality of this region.”
Not only would property taxes stabilize under the plan, but also Fitzgerald said the total budget would remain relatively flat when compared with last year.
“The budget we’re proposing is about $817 million in operating,” Fitzgerald said. “It’s a little over a 2 percent increase over last year. And that’s pretty much inflationary with respect to collective bargaining wage agreements, supplies that we buy, those type of things.”
Fitzgerald was also happy to announce that the county’s fund balance is approaching the 5 percent of the total operating budget needed to achieve the top bond rating level.
“Our fund balance when I took office was a little over $5 million,” the county executive said. “At the end of last year it was over $12 million, and we’re hoping by the end of this year it’s up to $18-20 million.”
The budget proposal also includes a $50 million capital investment in roads, bridges, parks, and other facilities.
That capital investment plan includes a $1 million down payment on a new rapid bus line.
“It will link downtown Pittsburgh to Oakland in a very reliable, every 5- or 6-minute trip, which people will be able to get on a dedicated line, much like a rail line,” Fitzgerald said.