Allegheny County Council passes capital budget

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Allegheny County Council approved a $50.4 million capital budget Tuesday, rejecting two attempts to amend the financial plan.

Council passed the budget 11-4, with Barbara Daly Danko, D-Regent Square; Matt Drozd, I-Ross; Sue Means, R-Bethel Park; and Bill Robinson, D-Hill District, voting against.

Already once delayed, the budget's approval means road, bridge and infrastructure projects can get off the ground come January, which put Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald in a jolly mood.

Before the vote, the executive had pleaded with members to pass the plan.

"The legislation approved this evening will allow over 30 road and bridge projects to move forward . . . in various communities throughout this county," Mr. Fitzgerald wrote in a news release. "It also allows us to take full advantage of the funding recently approved in the transportation bill passed at the state level."

Both Ms. Means and Mr. Drozd attempted to amend the budget. Ms. Means proposed eliminating a $1 million allocation to the Port Authority aimed at helping build a bus rapid transit link between Downtown and Oakland; Mr. Drozd asked council to hold off on making its final payment toward the completed North Shore tunnel project.

Both measures failed.

The final budget looks very similar to Mr. Fitzgerald's original proposal; Ms. Danko calculated that it differed by just 0.25 percent. Even Mr. Robinson's budget, which included a controversial allocation to the August Wilson Center for African American Culture, differed by just 1.5 percent, she said.

The budget passed about two weeks after it was supposed to be finalized by law, but there's no punishment listed on the books.

Some might say council punished itself for the rest of the evening, with Mr. Robinson and Michael Finnerty, D-Scott, offering competing motions to censure each other for perceived slights, and Mr. Drozd putting forth a proposal to secede from Pennsylvania, saying the county does not get enough funding from Harrisburg.

Council voted down that measure.

Andrew McGill: or 412-263-1497.

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