The traffic court cashier window at Pittsburgh Municipal Court in Downtown.

Allegheny County selected to participate in national fine and fee reform initiative following PublicSource investigation

Allegheny County is one of 10 locales selected to participate in a national initiative on fine and fee reform. The announcement follows a PublicSource investigation of the impacts of court debt in Allegheny County. There is more than $350 million in unpaid court debt in the county dating back to 1970. For residents who are unable to pay their fines and fees, the implications are severe: nonpayment can result in arrest warrants, driver’s license suspensions and even jail time.  

As an inaugural member of the Cities & Counties for Fine and Fee Justice, the county was awarded $50,000 to put toward reform efforts. It will work with policy experts and other cohort members over 18 months to develop “bold, innovative solutions,” according to a press release.

A vacant home on Franklin Avenue in Wilkinsburg. (Photo by Ryan Loew/PublicSource)

Raise, raze, reclaim: A county proposal has blight-beset boroughs thinking demolition — and beyond

Update (4/7/20): Allegheny County Council Tuesday unanimously approved a measure placing a $15 fee on deeds and mortgages, to fund demolitions of blighted properties, sending it to County Executive Rich Fitzgerald for his consideration. Update (4/1/2020): A proposed fee on deeds and mortgages that would fund the demolition of blighted buildings won the recommendation of Allegheny County Council’s Economic Development Committee Wednesday afternoon, setting up a possible vote of the full council on Tuesday. The seven-member committee, which met via web, voted unanimously to endorse the legislation. Because it creates a new fee, it requires a ⅔ vote of the full 15-member county council to become law. County development Director Lance Chimka projected that it would bring in an average of $2.1 million a year.

Single-use plastic and air pollution: Two leading experts share their knowledge about climate change

This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 250 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story. Read PublicSource's stories here. Climate change is a crisis that impacts us at both the global and local levels. The decisions of local and state lawmakers determine the type of materials that end up on our shelves and in our environment. The impact of pollution can vary depending on where you are, not just on a regional level but on a neighborhood level — meaning Pittsburghers don’t all experience the same consequences from pollution in the same way.