Allegheny County

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Live Well Allegheny is a new initiative aimed at promoting health and wellness throughout Allegheny County.

The effort was launched Tuesday by Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald, members of the county Board of Health and Health Department Director Karen Hacker.

Fitzgerald said while the Pittsburgh region ranks high on national lists for things such as livability and academia, it could also be a leader in healthy living.

As counties, municipalities and school districts prepare to send tax bills, Allegheny County is reporting a drop in taxable real estate values. Due to assessment appeals, the overall value of land and buildings in the county dropped by 4.8 percent.

There is now a total of a little more than $75 billion in taxable property in the county, versus more than $79 billion last year. But, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said that’s not unusual following a reassessment.

What was once one of the most polluted cities in the nation now has 49 Energy Star certified commercial facilities. 

It was announced Thursday that the City-County Building in downtown Pittsburgh has earned the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Energy Star rating, meaning the building performs in the top 25 percent of similar facilities in terms of energy efficiency nationwide.

County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said sustainability is something Allegheny County has been focused on for some time.

Ryan Loew / 90.5 WESA

Visitors to the Allegheny County Courthouse this holiday season will see a few new festive embellishments. 

Along with the colorful globes that normally adorn the county’s official tree, nearly 100 ornaments created by local school districts have been added to the boughs. 

Every district in the county was invited to use recycled scrap material to create an ornament representing the district itself and one for each of the communities within its borders.

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.

A long-standing fall tradition at Hartwood Acres is back for another year, and organizers say it will be bigger than ever. 

The Allegheny County Green & Innovation Festival and Hay Day will have more vendors, presentations and crafts than previous years when it opens for business Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

County Special Events Coordinator Katie Harbison said last year’s high attendance was unexpected.

Giving Voters a Say on Natural Gas Drilling

Aug 22, 2013

When it comes to drilling for natural gas in the county’s parks, Allegheny County councilman Matt Drozd thinks the decision should be up to the voters. That’s why he recently introduced a resolution that will require the board of elections to ask voters if they should be consulted before the county approves drilling beneath a county park.

“Let them make a decision too and join in. They’ll learn more and they’ll feel more a part of the process,” Drozd said of his proposal.

Naturegirl78 / Flickr

As if regular old mosquitoes weren’t bad enough, the Allegheny County Health Department is reporting that the Asian tiger mosquito has been found throughout Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood.

More common mosquitoes generally bother birds, and people as well, but they're usually most active at dawn and dusk. That’s not the case with this insect.

“The Asian tiger mosquito loves people,” said Health Department entomologist Bill Todaro. “It bites in the morning, it bites in the afternoon and it bites in the evening.”

In an effort to ensure steady and predictable revenue from property taxes, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald is planning to establish the 2012 property reassessment as a base-year for coming tax years.

He said the recent re-assessment was very costly for county residents.

Haldan Kirsch / 90.5 WESA

The population of the youngest Allegheny County residents is growing, while nationally the number is dropping.

Between 2010 and 2012, the number of people five years of age and younger increased county-wide by 0.9 percent, while it decreased nationally by the same percentage.

“I think the Pittsburgh region’s been attracting people for the last few years, and most people moving into the region are going to be younger folks mostly coming for work, so I think that’s made us younger as we go ahead,” said Christopher Briem, regional economist at the University of Pittsburgh.

Allegheny County is hoping to fight blight by offering as much as a $3,000 discount to anyone looking to take ownership and improve abandon properties.

The Allegheny County Vacant Property Recovery Program usually charges individuals or entities that want to acquire the properties the assessed value of the parcel plus about $3,000 in fees. Between now and July 15 the county will waive between $1,600 and all of the fees.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5/WESA

In an ongoing effort to connect multiple bicycle trails and communities with one another, the plan for the Ohio River Trail has been completed.

Community leaders from around Allegheny County gathered at a Rite Aid store in McKees Rocks Thursday to outline the plan.

“This project is going to connect the City of Pittsburgh to McKees Rocks, along Route 51, along the McKees Rocks Bottoms, and finally connecting to the Montour Trail, which now has a spur to the airport,” said Bike Pittsburgh Executive Director Scott Bricker.

Leaders hope a new commission will reduce violence and promote positive mental health in Allegheny County.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said he formed the Public Health Commission on Preventing Gun Violence and Promoting Community Mental Health upon request of state Rep. Ed Gainey of the 24th Legislative District.

“We’re going to be focused on making sure we look at the best practices, the best ideas, implement them in our community and doing all that we have to do to make sure that we reduce and eliminate the violence in our neighborhood,” Gainey said.  

Deanna Garcia / 90.5/WESA

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner said Thursday one of the most concerning issues facing the county is the amount of money going toward debt services.

In 2012, the county’s debt load increased $90 million, according to the Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). Total annual debt service payments have increased to $62.6 million.

“Of this $62.6 million, we are now paying more on the interest than on the principal,” Wagner said.

The debt service for the county poses a challenge to providing services and investments for communities.

Got any medications that you don’t need any more or has expired? The Allegheny County Police want to help take them off your hands.

As part of National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day, southwestern Pennsylvania residents can drop off their unused medications at the North Park and South Park County Police stations on Saturday.

Pittsburgh’s air has gotten cleaner, but the city still ranks as one of the most polluted in the country.

That's according to the American Lung Association’s annual State of the Air report released Wednesday. According to the report, Pittsburgh ranks eighth in year-round particle pollution, the mix of tiny solid and liquid particles in the air. These particles can increase the risk of heart and lung disease and adverse birth outcomes.

Voter Registration Deadline Quickly Approaching

Apr 19, 2013

Voters will choose nominees for mayor of Pittsburgh, four city council seats and in seven Allegheny County council districts in the May 21st primary.

If you want to vote in that primary election, you must submit your registration forms by the close of business Monday. Registered voters who have moved or changed their name or party affiliation must also notify the Allegheny County Elections Division by that same deadline.

The Allegheny County Health Department says one person has been treated for Legionnaire's disease-related pneumonia at a Pittsburgh senior-citizens apartment building.

Officials at York Commons say crews have flushed water lines, shower head and faucets with hot water meant to kill the bacteria that health department officials have determined sickened an unidentified female resident last month.

Most of the attention and criticism of the property tax system over the past year has been about the reassessments of more than a half million properties in Allegheny County.

"The law is very clear," said County Controller Chelsa Wagner, "specifically in Allegheny County you cannot have any windfall. That doesn't mean 1 percent, that doesn't mean 5 percent, that means zero."

Deanna Garcia/90.5 WESA News

A more regional approach to stormwater and wastewater management would mean better water quality, better service and a more efficient system overall. That’s according to a report from an independent review panel convened by the Allegheny Conference on Community Development at the request of ALCOSAN.

The Authority serves 83 communities, each of them is responsible for collection and then conveyance to ALCOSAN pipes, then the Authority is responsible for treatment.

The Allegheny County Democratic Committee meets this weekend for its endorsement meeting. Before Mayor Luke Ravenstahl announced he was leavening the race for reelection, he was on the endorsement ballot along with City Controller Michael Lamb. Lamb now remains the only name on the ballot.

“I understand that there are several other people running in the primary, but for the actual endorsement of the party, there will only be one,” said Committee Chair Nancy Patton Mills.

Margaret J. Krauss/90.5 WESA

More than 300 recommendations are included in the reports of 12 Vision Teams, which were assembled last year to come up with ideas to improve county operations.