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Allegheny County eyes billboards for revenues

| Friday, March 15, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Allegheny County Council is considering a proposal to allow billboards on 45 county-owned properties, including next to the county jail, that would generate more than $1.26 million annually for county coffers.

Three companies — Lamar Advertising, TS Outdoor Media and Interstate Outdoor Advertising — would construct a mixture of lighted billboards and traditional billboards in municipalities including Pittsburgh, Ross, Moon, Hampton, Bethel Park, Penn Hills and Wilkins.

“It's bad public policy, and it's ugly. Pittsburgh is noted for its beauty,” said former County Commissioner Mike Dawida, now executive director of Scenic Pittsburgh. “Digital, bright billboards are like televisions on a stick. The municipalities won't accept this.”

Dawida attended council's public works committee meeting on Thursday as members voted to table the proposal. The committee must approve it before the full council votes. County Executive Rich Fitzgerald proposed the idea.

“We continue to look for new revenue streams to reduce our reliance on property taxes,” county Manager William McKain said. “It would be done tastefully and only with the approval of local zoning.”

The billboard would have to conform to each municipality's zoning ordinances. McKain said the county could move forward with scaled-down versions of the plan if certain municipalities won't allow it.

Bobby Kerlik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7886 or bkerlik@tribweb.com.

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