$50.4M capital budget for Allegheny County advances

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With an almost audible sigh of relief, the Allegheny County Council budget committee approved a $50.4 million capital budget Wednesday, moving $125,000 to benefit White Oak Park.

Eight committee members voted unanimously to approve the budget, which hews closely to the recommendations of Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald. The budget will go before the full council next week for final passage.

Wednesday's 25-minute committee meeting went far quicker than its counterpart from the week before, which ran for more than an hour and ended in gridlock.

The difference? A businesslike attitude, said new committee chairman Michael Finnerty, who replaced fellow Democrat Bill Robinson after last week's fireworks.

"I'm business, and I do business," Mr. Finnerty said. "This got us in a bad situation."

Previous attempts to pass a capital budget collapsed under the weight of a proposed $500,000 grant to the struggling August Wilson Center for African American Culture, an allocation proposed by Mr. Robinson. Last week, when it appeared council would not pass the budget without removing the grant, Mr. Robinson killed his own proposal.

That -- as well as some of his actions at council meetings -- got him booted from his position atop the budget committee, with Council President Charles Martoni saying they needed a change.

The budget includes $125,000 to renovate sports fields at White Oak Park, a 810-acre recreation area near McKeesport. Councilman Bob Macey, D-West Mifflin, said he's been pushing for the project for at least four years.

"The field hasn't received substantial attention," Mr. Macey said. "It pales in comparison with other fields in any of the other county parks."

Andrew McGill: amcgill@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1497.

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