County Council To Decide On Budget Amidst Disagreement Over Drug Enforcement
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A war of words between the Allegheny County District Attorney and county administrators over drug enforcement could be coming to an end in a few hours.
Tuesday night’s county council meeting will look at a budget plan that could settle a surprising rift between the DA and county police.
Tuesday morning, District Attorney Steve Zappala sent an email to Allegheny County Council members indicating that he and County Executive Rich Fitzgerald have reached an agreement on a $16.2 million budget for the DA’s office.
Originally, Fitzgerald offered $15.8 million.
But when Zappala went before council’s budget hearing last month, he accused county police of not doing enough to fight the war on drugs, claiming his own narcotics team made more arrests than the county in a given period.
County administrators and the county police chief questioned Zappala’s figures.
Jim Burn is a county councilman and state democratic chairman.
“The District Attorney came in to us with about $400,000 more in a request than he was allocated in the proposal. He’s going to get just about what he wanted,” he said. “And I really have to comment him and the chief executive for sitting down and communicating directly to each other rather than an email in the media and working that out.”
But council still has the last word.
“Neither Mr. Fitzgerald or Mr. Zappala are authorized to shape a budget for Allegheny County,” said councilman Bill Robinson. “That is the sole and executive province of this council. I have not been a party to any arrangement that those two gentleman have made. I can only presume that Mr. Fitzgerald has a plan that involves county council.”