Allegheny County Councilman William Robinson on Thursday unveiled an alternative budget that would restore about $1.8 million in funding for Community College of Allegheny County and more than $400,000 for the county controller's office.
Mr. Robinson would offset much of that spending by cutting the county budget for non-department services by about $1 million and reduce its share of payment for some fringe benefits by $600,000.
The spending plan proposed by Mr. Robinson, D-Hill District, is $500,000 larger than the one presented last month by county Executive Rich Fitzgerald. Mr. Fitzgerald's proposed 2013 budget totals $799.4 million; Mr. Robinson's alternative is $799.9 million. Neither plan would require a tax increase.
Under the county charter, the executive proposes a "comprehensive fiscal plan," but council makes the final decision on county finances.
Mr. Robinson's plan was presented on the second day of a two-day public hearing on county spending for 2013. Mr. Robinson, who serves as chairman of council's Budget and Finance Committee, presided over the more than eight hours of financial presentations and questions from council members.
More discussion likely will follow both at Tuesday's regular council meeting and at least one more meeting of the Budget and Finance Committee. Council will set property tax rates and adopt operating and capital budgets for 2013 in December. Not date has been picked for those votes.
In addition to Mr. Robinson's version of the budget, members of council's Republican minority may present their own amendments to the proposed county spending plan.
Mr. Robinson's proposal would restore 2013 funding for CCAC from the $23.2 million proposed by the Fitzgerald administration to $25 million next year. That higher number would be $500,000 less than this year's county allocation of $25.5 million, CCAC President Alex Johnson said.
Other members of council, who got their first look at Mr. Robinson's budget changes Thursday night, said they would need time to review his proposals. "Mr. Robinson's ideas are always worth looking at," council President Charles Martoni said.
Much of Wednesday's and Thursday's sessions centered on a proposal by the Fitzgerald administration to reduce funding for Controller Chelsa Wagner's office from $6.3 million allocated for 2012 to $5.7 million for 2013.
The overall proposed operating budget is about 2 percent larger than this year's spending plan. "I find it odd to see increases elsewhere in the budget and decreases in the office that ensures accountability for taxpayers," Ms. Wagner, the county's elected financial watchdog, said.
County manager William McKain told council members that the $5.7 million budget recommended for the controller still had sufficient money to fund 84 positions. The reductions in proposed funding reflect the transfer of weights-and-measures employees to another department next year, expected lower costs for unemployment benefits and the transfer of computer-related expenses to the county's capital budget, Mr. McKain said.
Len Barcousky: firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1159.