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Allegheny County Controller Concerned About 'Potential Abuse' of County Vehicles

Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner said Tuesday she is concerned that the county does not know how many vehicles it has and how many of those go home with employees each night.

In a letter sent to County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and County Manager William McKain Monday evening, Wagner reiterated a request for complete information about county vehicles and their usage for a pending audit.

“That includes take home vehicles, it includes gas cards, which certain employees use, and it also includes the parking fees that employees pay if they’re parking in county facilities,” Wagner said.

Since sending her initial request to McKain on Aug. 28, Wagner said she has received conflicting and incomplete information.

County spokesperson Amie Downs said Wagner’s most recent letter is in error, and that preliminary information was sent to Wagner on Sept. 10, followed by complete information on Sept. 12.

Wagner dismissed that claim, saying a county spokesperson told her there were 719 total vehicles, but that the information she had so far received from departments totaled 613 vehicles.

Wagner said she has received complete information from two county departments, incomplete information from 10 departments, and no information from 17 departments.

The controller said she became aware of “potential abuses” regarding county vehicles when she found that an IRS audit of take-home vehicles revealed a vehicle count that was different from internal numbers. She said, based on incomplete data, the county appears to have between 250 and 350 take-home vehicles.

Wagner’s most recent letter also said Deputy Controller for Auditing, Lori Churilla, “has been seeking to schedule” a meeting with McKain’s staff, tentatively set for Sept. 19.

“I want to give the opportunity to the executive and his staff to be able to give us complete information,” Wagner said. “I‘m hopeful that, on this Friday when we meet to start this audit, we will get full cooperation from them.”

Correction: This report has been updated to correct a figure provided by Allegheny County Controller Chelsa Wagner. Wagner initially stated information she had so far received from county departments totaled 577 vehicles. The correct figure is 613.

Liz Reid began working at WESA in 2013 as a general assignment reporter and weekend host. Since then, she’s worked as the Morning Edition producer, health & science reporter and as an editor.
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