PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio 1020 KDKA) – Over the past decade, funding from the state for Allegheny County’s crime lab in the Strip District has dwindled from $7.5 million to nothing.
If the lab doesn’t receive state money or get turned into a state lab, it could be shut down.
Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald will join other local leaders to testify at a hearing Tuesday to try to get funding for the county crime lab, or find another answer to keep the facility open.
Crime lab operations around the state are paid for by tax payers. Fitzgerald says Allegheny County residents are paying double because they pay for the state facilities and the county facility.
“We pay for the state crime lab and we pay for a county crime lab. The state used to pay this bill until a couple years ago then they started cutting back and they quit paying for it,” says Fitzgerald.
Fitzgerald explained that Allegheny County is only county that has to pay for their lab. He adds that essentially, residence pay double for the county lab and state labs.
If the county crime lab shuts down, the closest one to utilize is in Greensburg and Fitzgerald thinks the state will end up paying more money in the long run.
“The Allegheny County crime lab is more efficient than the state crime labs. [The county crime lab produces] for lab tests, that can be done quicker and at less cost to the state,” he said. “So, the state is getting a bargain here, but they’re kind of taking advantage of Allegheny County residents.”
The hearing at the Allegheny County Courthouse is being held by State Rep. Dom Costa, State Sen. Jay Costa, who Fitzgerald says are doing it, “to bring notice to [it], to say it just isn’t fair that Allegheny [County] taxpayers have to pay double, while everybody else in the state gets it for free.”
Fitzgerald added that the county crime lab is an efficient “state of the art” system that has received national awards.