Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato says he will spend the next 12 months cleaning up and finishing out some of the things he wanted to get accomplished as county executive. Among those things is exploring the possibility of drilling for gas in the shale layer below the airport. “This would be private money coming in and it’s a real value… I think it would be irresponsible as County Executive or County Council, for us not to explore what that is,” says Onorato, “We can always say ‘no’ to it if the proposal is wrong or if it does not make sense for us we don’t have to accept it.”
Onorato says he would want to make sure the request for proposal is written well, “set some rules and guidelines in the RFP that we want to make sure it’s environmentally safe, that we do it in a way that makes sense for the residents that live close to the airport.” Onorato says simply dismissing it out of hand is irresponsible. Any drilling contract would have to be approved by the
Federal Aviation Administration. The county owns about 9,000 acres at the airport.
Onorato says his other top priority will be to continue to fight for a more fair property assessment system in the state. He says it is unfair that Allegheny County should have to go through” yet another reassessment” while other counties in the state have not reassessed properties for decades. “I came in fighting reassessments and it looks like I’m going out fighting reassessments,” says Onorato. He says there is something “inherently wrong” with Allegheny County having to do things other counties do not. Onorato plans to travel to Harrisburg in February to talk to lawmakers about several issues including efforts to get a statewide assessment system put in place. Onorato says Pennsylvania and Delaware are the only two states in the nation that do not have statewide assessment standards.