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Roddey discusses Rock Pointe in state of county address

| Friday, Aug. 31, 2001

PITTSBURGH: Allegheny County Chief Executive Jim Roddey's annual state of the county address Thursday contained many details about parks, transportation and economic development projects and no mention of the political tension running high between his administration and county council.

Roddey spoke for about 40 minutes during the council's meeting, outlining achievements of the past year and challenges for the upcoming one.

He did not make mention of the feverish battle that erupted this summer over reapportionment of the county's political boundaries.

The executive spoke briefly about the impending difficulty in drafting a 2002 budget.

Though the 2000 countywide property reassessment will bring in about $11 million more in tax revenue, the process also will cost about $10 million more than expected for refunds for successful property owner appeals, Roddey reminded council.

Though able to balance the 2001 budget, Roddey said the county likely will be looking at a shortfall for 2002.

'We have some serious decisions to make,' he warned council members.

He went on to urge the Democratically controlled council to put partisan politics aside and work with the Republican administration to make those decisions and draft a good budget.

But bipartisan harmony might not be on the horizon. Both sides still are smarting from battles over reapportioning the county's 13 council districts.

First, in June, Roddey quietly introduced a measure in the GOP-led state legislature that would force more Republican participation in the process.

The measure failed for lack of enough Republican legislators on the floor during the late-night vote. Democrats complained Roddey was playing dirty politics.

Democrats retaliated last week by pulling a never-before-seen map out during the county council meeting and forcing a vote without public discussion of the new boundaries.

Republicans then took their turn to cry foul.

Though the tension was not mentioned during Roddey's appearance in the council chambers, the mood was clear. Republican supporters of the executive filled most of the room for the speech and filed out when he finished.

Democrats on council mostly refused to clap when Roddey was introduced and few gave him applause when he finished.

The speech, itself, focused on a laundry list of accomplishments in areas of economic development, transportation and parks.

Specific to the Valley, the executive mentioned work to develop Rock Pointe Industrial Park in West Deer, which will potentially create 4,000 new jobs.

'The Allegheny Valley is no longer a forgotten corner of our county,' Roddey said.

He also mentioned several times the comprehensive plan for the county's parks, which would create a signature feature at each facility, aiming to boost quality of life in the region.

'The park system is a significant resource we can use to attract young professionals and families,' Roddey said.

Roddey also announced the county plans to spend $5 million more next year to help low- and moderate-income municipalities fix problems with antiquated water and sewerage systems.

'We have a serious problem not only in Allegheny County, but in the region with water and sewer overflows,' he said.

He also announced the county plans to devote another $2 million to municipalities to help tear down dilapidated buildings. Many towns, particularly older river towns with old housing stock, struggle each year to demolish some of the condemned homes and buildings within their boundaries. They rely on state and county grants to pay for the destruction.

Among his list of top-priority transportation projects, Roddey included the Frazer interchange along Route 28 and the proposed Allegheny Valley commuter railroad.

Wynne Everett can be reached at weverett@tribweb.com









Breakout:

Roddey's accomplishments, goals

County Executive Jim Roddey took credit for a number of achievements in the past year:

  • Improved county bond rating.

  • Improved services and facilities at the county's Kane Regional Health Centers.

  • A comprehensive plan to improve county parks.

  • A professional human resources department for the county, along with merit hiring.

    Roddey's goals:

  • Support state efforts on property tax reform.

  • Find more space for the offices of the coroner, the district attorney and the public defender.

  • Find a hotel chain to build a hotel to serve the new convention center.

  • Help municipalities fix ailing water and sewerage systems.

  • Work to keep US Airways in town and get the airline to build its maintenance facility here.

  • Find funding for the county's regional criminal booking centers.

  • Increase the pay of county health and human services direct care workers.

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