Chelsa Wagner

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner on Tuesday announced she has filed legal action against four county authorities that she said are refusing to allow her office to conduct performance audits.

Wagner is seeking to audit the Allegheny County Airport Authority, the Sports and Exhibition Authority of Pittsburgh and Allegheny County (SEA), the Allegheny County Port Authority, and the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (ALCOSAN).

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner will pursue enforcement of three subpoenas against county officials who did not attend a meeting Monday morning that would have officially begun an audit of the county Police Department.

About 35 Allegheny County constables attended the first of three mandatory training sessions Thursday designed to teach the officers how to properly process their payments.

An audit by County Controller Chelsa Wagner’s office last year found some constables received payments from the courts and the county for the same job. There were 33 duplicates between January 2012 and June 2013, totaling $1,618.02.

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner announced Tuesday she intends to subpoena the county administration and police department.

She said it’s the result of the “refusal to cooperate” with her performance audit of the police department, which includes 220 officers and operates on a $29.4 million budget.

The subpoena will call on County Manager William McCain, Chief of Staff Jennifer Liptak and police Superintendent Charles Moffat to report to her office on Feb. 23 to discuss the audit and next steps.

The campaign office of Mark Patrick Flaherty has fired the first shot in the 2015 Allegheny County Controller’s race.  Flaherty, who was unseated from the post in 2011 by now County Controller Chelsa Wagner, says the incumbent left key data off her most recently campaign filing.

In specific, Flaherty says Wagner did not file home and work addresses for several of the individuals who donated to Wagner’s campaign more than the state reporting threshold of $250.

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner Wednesday threatened to take four county agencies to court for refusing to comply with her requests and delaying audits launched by her office.

Wagner wants to examine the contracting processes used by the Allegheny County Airport Authority, Port Authority of Allegheny County and the Allegheny County Sanitary Authority (Alcosan), as well as the distribution of free tickets by the Pittsburgh-Allegheny County Sports and Exhibition Authority (SEA).

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner is threatening to withhold nearly $682,000 from VisitPittsburgh until the nonprofit tourism promotion agency explains why it allocated public funds to Mayor Peduto’s “Undercover Boss” appearance last month.

As part of the CBS reality show, Peduto promised $155,000 to four city employees for college tuition, mortgage payments and startup costs for a new church. Peduto said no public funds would be used, but according to Wagner, VisitPittsburgh was asked to contribute $25,000 toward the gifts.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner is releasing an analysis of county-owned vehicles that she said reveals a number of issues including misuse, fraud, lack of oversight and major gaps in usage data.

In a summary of the audit, released Tuesday, Wagner said it took about a month for the county to give her office the number of vehicles in the fleet. She said that needs to be fixed.

The Allegheny County jail houses about 2,700 inmates, many of whom by one person's estimation are not being provided with efficient health care.

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner Monday released the audit of Corizon Prison Health Management Inc., which she claims yielded some “damning” findings.

She said this not only impacts the health of the inmates and prison employees but also the larger community.

Deanna Garcia / 90.5 WESA

Former Allegheny County Controller Mark Patrick Flaherty has announced his candidacy for the post currently held by Democrat Chelsa Wagner. Flaherty, who held the post from 2004 to 2011, will seek the Democratic nomination.

“I really enjoyed it. I’m looking forward to getting back and helping people and meeting a lot of people out there on the campaign trail and seeing what ideas and what suggestions they might have to improve efficiencies of county and all governments in Allegheny County,” said Flaherty.

The rental car company Hertz owes Allegheny County nearly three quarters of a million dollars, according to County Controller Chelsa Wagner.

Wagner found the error while auditing three years worth of activities at Pittsburgh International Airport. Car rental companies are to collect and send to the county a $2 per vehicle per day tax. Due to a computer glitch, Hertz Corporation had not been submitting the receipts to the county.

Despite rumors that she was setting her sights on the County Executive’s office, Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner will be officially launching her campaign for a second term at an event Monday night.

“I recognize that when you are running against any incumbent, that’s something that’s difficult,” Wagner said of her decision to not run for what's considered the third most powerful position in the state. “I think things can be done better in the county. It’s probably obvious by my position on some things, but at the same time I enjoy my job.”

“This is the most damning audit in terms of the findings in my tenure,” says Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner.

The controller is referring to an audit of Corizon, the Tennessee-based firm contracted to manage the infirmary and health care for inmates at the County Jail. Corizon provides health services at other jails and prisons across the country, including Rikers in New York

Wagner said Corizon, which is paid $11 million a year, is failing to provide clinical care to inmates. 

An audit of the retail operations at the Pittsburgh International Airport found that, overall, the prices are similar to what you’d find in non-airport retailers. Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner said the airport must adhere to a “street pricing” policy that dates back to when the facility opened and offered some of the only shopping in the area.

“Each year it’s typical that we find a number of items that are overpriced at the airport,” said Wagner, “this year’s included a Harley Davidson jacket, a pair of headphones and a few other items.”

County Controller Chelsa Wagner is calling for more transparency in the distribution of Allegheny County’s gaming funds.

Wagner’s office audited the distribution of casino monies to the Community Infrastructure and Tourism Fund (CITF) and the Gaming Economic Development Fund (GEDF) from 2010 to 2013 – totalling $28.2 million.

The Redevelopment Authority of Allegheny County (RAAC), an independent board appointed by the County Executive, is responsible for choosing which applicants receive funds from gaming: ranging from municipalities to non-profits to hospitals.

In reaction to charges that he might have misused a county-owned vehicle, Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald has written a $42,737.52 check to cover all of the mileage he has put on his take home car since assuming office.

Last week County Controller Chela Wagner publicly questioned Fitzgerald’s use of the car citing several instances where he used the vehicle to get to and from what she labeled as political events. Wagner specifically questioned 19,556 miles, which she equated to $13,125 by applying the federal mileage reimbursement rate.

Jessica Nath / 90.5 WESA

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner is accusing County Executive Rich Fitzgerald of mishandling thousands of dollars in taxpayer funds by using his county-owned vehicle for personal purposes.

At a news conference Thursday, Wagner said she sent Fitzgerald a letter instructing him to send her staff accurate documentation so they can determine how much he must reimburse the county. She said his office would have to determine how they would reimburse the funds.

It’s reasonable to expect that, when calling 911, the person on the other end of the line is alert, well rested, and not overworked.

But Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner said she’s concerned that the county’s 9-1-1 center employees are racking up too much overtime, leading to escalated costs and risks to public safety.

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Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner said Tuesday she is concerned that the county does not know how many vehicles it has and how many of those go home with employees each night.

In a letter sent to County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and County Manager William McKain Monday evening, Wagner reiterated a request for complete information about county vehicles and their usage for a pending audit.

A recent audit from Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner has found that complex procedures and internal deficiencies in the Department of Human Services (DHS) could lead to problems in the facilitation of mental health services in the county.

“I think this audit shows that there are a number of breaks in the process and those breaks could result in residents in need falling through the cracks if they’re not receiving that help that they need in that most critical hour,” Wagner said.

At a meeting this week of the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (ICA) Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner urged the city of Pittsburgh to implement a joint financial management system that she said is already-built and ready to go. Wagner said by not utilizing the payroll module, the city is taking a financial hit.

“There’s already a cost to past delays, we’re incurring a cost presently because of present delays and will continue to in the future if there are future delays,” she said.

The takeaway: Allegheny County's fiscal condition is good, but policy makers shouldn't be complacent because challenges are on the horizon.

That's according to County Controller Chelsa Wagner, who released her 2013 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report Tuesday.

The report shows that the county’s fund balance stands at $28 million — up $15 million from the previous year,  and Standard & Poor’s rating agency has upgraded the county’s debt from A+ to AA-. Wagner also noted that jobs increased by more than 20,000 making the region home to more than 1.2 million employees.

To cut costs and encourage more effective communication between businesses and county government, Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner is taking the next step in having her office go paperless.

Vendors are now being urged to send invoices to the county electronically, which will save the office between $15,000 and $20,000 per year in postage, paper and ink. 

Businesses still have the option to submit paper invoices, but Wagner said she expects using the electronic system to be a requirement soon.

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner this week sent a letter to Corizon Health, Inc. detailing her concerns about allegations that the company is providing substandard healthcare to inmates at the Allegheny County Jail.

Those allegations first surfaced in a Dec. 8 article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, which revealed internal e-mails between jail staff and Corizon.

County Controller Chelsa Wagner has issued a letter to Allegheny County authorities asking them to increase their transparency.

Brad Korinski, county controller chief of staff, said the public needs and wants more transparency and supervision over authorities and how they spend taxpayer money.

“Authorities affect any number of aspects of our daily life as citizens,” Korinski said. “But I think that even the most engaged of our citizens would be hard-pressed to describe exactly how authorities do what it is that they do.”

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner has found what she believes to be a discrepancy in tax reassessment breaks between commercial and residential properties.

The controller’s office released information Monday showing commercial properties are receiving significantly bigger tax reassessment breaks than homeowners.

Wagner said there seems to be an inconsistency between how commercial properties were reduced and how residential properties were reduced at the assessment hearings.

Liz Reid / 90.5 WESA

Hundreds of protestors sat down in the middle of Fifth Avenue in Oakland outside of UPMC Presbyterian Saturday, singing “Amazing Grace” and calling on the healthcare giant to make some major changes.

Christoria Hughes, 56, works in the dining hall at Presbyterian for $12/hour, and said the rally wasn’t just about the employees of UPMC.

In the wake of Pittsburgh Police Chief Nate Harper’s indictment on counts of conspiracy and theft of public funds, Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner wants to increase transparency in county funds.

She and County Manager William McKain are auditing “off-book” accounts with the goal of bringing them under the county’s centralized accounting and banking system.

She called the accounts “historic relics” from the county’s former row office structure.

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.

The company that collects the trash from businesses at the Pittsburgh International Airport is overbilling its users according to an Allegheny County Controller’s audit released Thursday.

Controller Chelsa Wagner said Allied Waste Service of Pittsburgh incorrectly billed tenants from December 2007 through August 2012 resulting in extra charges of about $195,000.

Wagner’s office launched the audit after a customer complained to the Airport Authority, which then passed the complaint to the county’s fiscal watchdog.

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