Roddey to Council: Let Voters Decide Now to Cut Row Offices, Save Millions
(July 8, 2003)
Allegheny County Chief Executive Jim Roddey today urged County Council to approve legislation that would allow voters in November to cut from 10 to four the number of row offices effective Jan. 1, 2004.
If Council - which meets tonight at 5 p.m. - approves the legislation, voters in the Nov. 4 General Election would decide on whether to:
- maintain four elected row offices - Controller, Coroner, District Attorney and Sheriff;
- merge the functions of the Treasurer and Recorder of Deeds into the Budget and Finance Department and Office of Property Assessment, respectively; and
- consolidate the functions of the Clerk of Courts, Prothonotary, Register of Wills and Jury Commissioners into a Court Records Office, headed by a court-appointed administrator.
The restructuring would increase efficiencies and save taxpayers about $4 million yearly.
"Council members, including President Rick Schwartz, and other elected officials within county government have stated their desire to enact swift and meaningful row office reform," stated Executive Roddey. "I call upon each to demonstrate that commitment now by allowing voters this November to continue to modernize county government operations and realize the significant financial savings that can be achieved through this restructuring proposal."
While Executive Roddey had previously proposed keeping only two row offices - the District Attorney and Controller - last week he wrote to Councilman Schwartz (D-Plum) detailing a compromise proposal to maintain four offices and meld the remaining offices into the government. Although Schwartz had publicly advanced a similar proposal, Roddey is concerned the Councilman might avoid voting for immediate reform and instead vote for a 2005 referendum, delaying until 2006 operating efficiencies and savings that could be realized next year.
Because the proposed referendum would change the form of government under the Home Rule Charter, Council must first adopt an ordinance amending the Administrative Code to establish procedures for that referendum. Appropriate legislation is before Council and Executive Roddey has requested that it be adopted tonight.
In order for a referendum to be placed on the November ballot, Council and the Executive must adopt the law by Aug. 5. After meeting this evening, Council is not scheduled to be back in session until Aug. 19.