As County Executive, Rich Fitzgerald has established a record as a leader who brings people together to solve problems and get things done.
He has prioritized economic development, working with communities and private companies to support smart growth, help create good jobs, and invest in our workers. He has invested in transportation and infrastructure while supporting clean energy and sustainability, affordable housing, and health care — all while improving the county’s finances, maintaining balanced budgets and holding the line on property taxes. He has worked to make Allegheny County a fairer, more inclusive place where everyone has an equal opportunity to live, work, and raise a family.
In Allegheny County, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald is known as a convener, bringing together people from all walks of life, all facets of government, representing labor and management, foundations, small businesses, nonprofits and more. In doing so, our community members work together, making real progress toward a better, fairer economy for our region in the 21st century. By encouraging that spirit of collaboration between all stakeholders, county government has been able to support job creation, encourage smart economic growth, and invest in our workers.
Strong economy, record levels of investment
Since the financial crisis, our economy has continued to grow by an average of more than two percent each year. 2017 was our strongest year of job creation yet, and a year in which Pittsburgh-area companies and universities received record levels of investment.
Managing growth, investing in workers
Rich will keep working to bring people together, build on the progress we've made, and make sure our government supports and manages smart economic growth -- including by improving our airport and other critical infrastructure like public transit, and investing in our workforce to make sure that good jobs created in Allegheny County go to workers in our communities.
Rich has worked to help develop our economy and invest in critical services and programs while significantly improving the county's financial health, maintaining balanced budgets, and holding the line on property taxes.
Stabilizing County finances
When Rich was elected, the county's fund balance was just over $5 million. When meeting with Moody's and Standard & Poor's, which were considering downgrading the county's rating, he made a commitment to increase it to $40 million. By 2017, the fund balance had grown to $49 million, making the county more financially stable and more credit-worthy.
Best credit rating in 35 years
Allegheny County's credit rating has been upgraded five times in the last six years and is now the best it's been since 1983 -- saving tax dollars on long-term investments and showing investors that this is a stable community that is a great place to do business.
Making government more efficient, holding the line on taxes
After taking office, Rich asked directors of all departments to find ways to make government more efficient. Those efforts have saved tax dollars across the board and allowed the county to maintain strong investments without raising property taxes.
By maintaining smart investments, implementing an agenda guided by fairness and equality, and focusing on evolving issues like climate change, Rich is working to improve quality of life for residents, to make Allegheny County a welcoming and inclusive place for all, and to address the challenges and opportunities we face in the 21st century.
Hiring a dynamic new airport director has reversed the trajectory of the airport, leading to more direct flights, more international connections, a greater focus on serving customers, and a broader recognition of the airport's critical role in economic development. Rich will continue to support efforts to take on whatever challenges we face at the airport and make sure we have the high-quality, 21st century airport we need to support continued growth in our economy and in our communities.
Meeting local health care needs
In 2013, Rich hired a new Health Department Director to overhaul a Department that was in dire need of reform. In the past five years, the department has gone through significant change to improve and reorganize the department to better serve residents and address specific local priorities including efforts to improve air quality, public health and wellness, and reduce lead exposure in our communities, among others.
Fighting for fairness, inclusion & equality
Rich believes that equality, inclusion and diversity are not only matters of justice and fairness but are critical to our economic future.
- LGBT Rights – Rich has long been a vocal and visible supporter of the LGBT community. As County Executive, he issued an executive order providing equal benefits to county employees in same-sex relationships before the Courts' decision to extend such benefits. As a member of County Council, he supported legislation to create the Human Rights Commission.
- Paid Parental Leave – Rich has worked to give all county employees the tools and flexibility they need to succeed. In 2012, he implemented a policy to provide paid parental leave to county employees so that workers aren't forced to choose between earning a paycheck and caring for their children.
- Diversity in Hiring & Leadership – As County Executive, Rich has strived to make the county workforce and leadership more reflective of the communities they serve, leading to significant increases in hiring, promotions and appointments of women and persons of color.
- Celebrating Inclusive Communities – In 2013, Allegheny County became an inaugural member of the Welcoming America campaign to celebrate inclusive communities and recognize the impact that immigrants and internationals have on our region as key contributors to our economy. This commitment has led to the county co-hosting the Welcoming America national conference in 2019 along with the City of Pittsburgh and All for All.
Climate change, clean energy & sustainability
Coming from a background in energy conservation, Rich has prioritized local sustainability efforts at the county level. As an inaugural member of the Pittsburgh 2030 initiative, the county has joined with businesses in western Pennsylvania to cut carbon emissions by 50% by 2030 in order to help fight climate change and meet the targets set in the Paris Climate Agreement. Rich has also focused on investing in clean energy, partnered with Roadrunner Recycling to increase recycling opportunities within the county, and made improvements in our parks that have reduced stormwater runoff, utilized solar for cross signalization and other fixtures, and improved our air quality through the planting of thousands of new trees throughout the county's park system. As County Executive, he will continue to make sure we do everything we can in Allegheny County to fight climate change, protect our future, and capitalize on the opportunity to make our region a national leader in sustainability.
As our region supports and manages economic growth for the first time in decades, Rich is also working to ensure that the county invests in our communities and that residents share the benefits of that growth and development.
- Investing in affordable housing
Allegheny County has made significant investments in affordable housing as our region continues to grow. Since Rich took office in 2012, the county has invested nearly $38 million in affordable housing projects and leveraged another $171 million in private investments, creating more than 1,600 new units in communities across the county.
- Expanding public transit service
In early 2018, a new CEO was hired to reform the Port Authority and bring a culture of excellence to the Authority. Going forward, the Port Authority's priorities include improving customer service and communication, improving reliability, implementing the proposed Bus Rapid Transit system between Oakland and Downtown, and expanding service to underserved neighborhoods to ensure that as many people as possible have access to safe and reliable public transit.
- Community-based development
Rich has been a champion of the Allegheny Together program, which supports business development in traditional pedestrian-based business districts throughout the county. Rich has emphasized community organization and data-driven planning as a way to direct public investment, spur private investment and revitalize our communities. Participating communities have included Aspinwall, Bellevue, Bridgeville, Carnegie, Coraopolis, Dormont, Elizabeth Borough, Etna, Homestead, Millvale, Sharpsburg, Stowe, Swissvale, Tarentum, and Verona, with funding for additional communities to participate in the coming years.
- Redeveloping vacant properties
The Vacant Property Recovery Program works with more than 75 participating municipalities to acquire vacant, blighted properties, clear their titles, and give them to an individual or entity that has developed a reuse plan. Through Allegheny County Economic Development, the county has supported streetscape improvement projects and restorations, has invested in making sites shovel-ready, participated in construction, prepared former brownfields for redevelopment, and leveraged additional investments.
- Supporting residents in need
Rich has continued to invest in programs to support the most vulnerable members of our communities, including people experiencing homelessness, residents who need help paying utility bills, and homeowners at risk of foreclosure. The county has also continued to support local non-profits and ensure they can continue to provide the critical services their clients depend on.
As County Executive, Rich has worked to bring people together to find new and creative ways to solve problems and create opportunities. That collaborative approach to government has helped the county do more with less and better serve residents in many different aspects of their lives.
- Job Training
Rich has partnered with local businesses and the Community College of Allegheny County to provide job-specific skills training to ensure that our workers are prepared to do the good jobs that are created here, and that our workforce has the skills and training necessary to continue to attract and retain new businesses.
- Learn & Earn
Working with Partners4Work and the City of Pittsburgh, the Learn and Earn Program provided summer jobs last year to 1,800 young people, each of whom also receives work-readiness training, a free bus pass, and an adult mentor.
- Allegheny County Jail Collaborative
Using federal funding, the county has established training programs to provide inmates with skills for new career opportunities when they are released. By building partnerships with outside providers, the county has helped provide training in masonry, mechatronics, and other tech-related fields, as well as food service and other service industry skills. Through a partnership with the Safety + Justice Network, the Jail and CountyStats have also received funding to develop data dashboards that will help identify inmates' needs and continue to make programming more effective.
- Partnerships to support our parks
With the support of the Richard King Mellon Foundation, the county created an Active Allegheny Grant Program which has provided for the support of local bicycle and pedestrian planning and design efforts, two open street events, and the printing of a community trail map. Public-private partnerships in our parks have also led to programs like Go Ape!, the North Park boathouse restaurant, bicycle rentals in South Park, and other opportunities that the county would not be able to offer to residents on its own. And as the 130-year-old County Courthouse undergoes renovations, the county has partnered with Wendell August Forge to transform the reclaimed roof tiles into items such as wall tiles, calendars and beer flight holders -- all of which are available for sale, with proceeds going to the Allegheny County Parks Foundation to support additional projects within the county parks system.