Sunset review recommends five departments continue
The Allegheny County Home Rule Charter includes among its taxpayer protections a sunset review to determine if the functions performed by the county are to continue, be abolished or reorganized. The responsibility falls to the County Manager’s office.
Beginning in 2015 one quarter of the departments and related agencies are reviewed and recommendations published each year. This year the departments of Economic Development, Minority, Women and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, Health, Human Services and the Kane Regional Centers were examined and all were recommended to continue.
With the review covering the non-core function of economic development the justification for the county’s involvement in having a hand in trying to spur the local economy through its divisions related to business development, development, special projects and finance and authorities is a stretch. The sunset review is supposed to show the public’s need for such activity and what would happen to public health, safety and welfare if the functions were reduced or eliminated.
In this case the review states that economic development efforts would be fragmented and fall to the local level (which assumes the commonwealth and its related entities would somehow abstain from granting development dollars), growth in municipal tax base would be curtailed (perhaps development would occur and, without special tax treatment, would contribute to tax coffers fully), older homes would deteriorate and the 27 municipalities that don’t have their own subdivision ordinance might have to actually enact one like the other 101 have done.
The recommendations go to County Council, which can act to accept or modify them. So unless council wants to try a test period of going without government-driven economic development, the department will next come up for review in 2023. The last change to come out of a sunset review was to merge the Department of Real Estate into the Department of Administrative Services. It will be quite unlikely that the reviews in the coming years will recommend any major changes to county government.