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Allegheny County Councilman Robinson wants rainy day fund

| Sunday, Oct. 20, 2013, 11:56 p.m.

Councilman Bill Robinson plans to propose establishing a rainy day fund at Tuesday's Allegheny County Council meeting.

The proposal calls for half of any revenue gained through extracting minerals or natural gas from county land to be put in a special fund and invested. Spending money in the fund would require a two-thirds vote by council.

“On fiscal matters, the council should tighten up its oversight,” said Robinson, D-Hill District, and chairman of the council's budget and finance committee. “If we choose to drill for gas, coal, oil, diamond, any minerals, revenue that is generated should be put in this rainy day fund that is created and saved for the future.”

The county is seeking bids from companies to drill for natural gas under Deer Lakes Park and studying whether there is coal to mine under ball fields at South Park.

Robinson claimed the current and past county executives have dipped into the fund balance as they chose, sometimes ignoring council members.

Amie Downs, spokeswoman for county Executive Rich Fitzgerald, said the county has a rainy day fund with a $12.2 million fund balance. County Council members have oversight of spending out of the fund balance, Downs said.

Fitzgerald proposed adding $2 million to the fund balance when he presented his budget proposal to council this month.

Robinson plans to introduce a capital budget proposal to council Tuesday. His budget does not stray much — aside from a $500,000 allocation for the financially troubled August Wilson Center for African American Culture — from the spending plan Fitzgerald presented at the last council meeting. Both budget proposals authorize $50.4 million in spending on infrastructure, parks, equipment and transportation.

Aaron Aupperlee is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7986 or aaupperlee@tribweb.com.

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