Allegheny County, Pennsylvania's buildings and bridges are in dire need of repairs, which should be performed before the city even thinks about buying any new real estate, said Controller Chelsa Wagner.
According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Wagner announced her position on Thursday, October 11, through an audit that was performed on the county's Fourth Avenue Garage. In the audit, Wagner described the work done on the facility as a long-term failure that stems from a lack of routine maintenance on the 82-year-old building. This, she said, has led to significant extra costs for the county's taxpayers.
The upper floors of the garage have been closed to the public since 2011, and in February 2012, the rest of the facility was closed to traffic. Since then, the county has been forced to lease parking spots for its fleet of vehicles and purchase additional employee parking spots, which has run the county's bill up an extra $6,000 per month.
According to Wagner, the poor state of the facility has "put the county's own employees and the public in serious danger."
"We must be willing to learn from past mistakes and take immediate steps to correct our course and create a long-term plan for monitoring and maintaining buildings and other assets," she said.
County Executive Rich Fitzgerald added that the administration shut down the garage when he took office after he learned that routine maintenance had not been performed in "many years."
Wagner pressed the county to take a look at the condition of its entire suite of assets and to create a maintenance program that would ensure these facilities are well taken care of before it buys any new properties.
"With the county's own roof caving in, it is absurd to consider purchasing a troubled asset on a credit card," Wagner said.
When work is performed on structures as old as the Fourth Avenue Garage, renovators must take great measures to adhere to standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency. These rules concern a wide range of potential hazards to both workers and the environment, including asbestos exposure and lead contamination.
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