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County Controller: Give Weights & Measures Duties to State

Controller Chelsa Wagner wants to let the state handle the auditing of weights and measures in Allegheny County, rather than relinquish control of the duty to the County Executive's office.

At Tuesday night's County Council meeting, Wagner plans to offer up a bill that would authorize the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to inspect scales, parking meters, gas pumps, and UPC price scanners in Allegheny County.

Since 2008, the Controller's office has inspected weights and measures at a cost of $250,000 per year. The bureau consists of three full-time employees and one part-time worker.

Citing financial reasons, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald recently said he wants to assume control of the weights and measures process. Fitzgerald sponsored the legislation that charged the Controller's office with weights and measures duties in the first place.

If the duty is given to the Department of Agriculture, Allegheny County would join a large majority of counties who let the state inspect weights and measures.

"A couple of very big Pennsylvania counties have been moving in that direction in the past couple of years," said Nick Hays, a spokesman for the County Controller's office. "Philadelphia, the largest county in the state, moved it back to the state in 2009, and Lancaster did it in 2010."

Hays said Allegheny County would save $250,000 per year if it gave the state control of weights and measures, since the Department of Agriculture must offer the inspections at no cost to the county.