Allegheny County – September 12, 2022 – Today, Pennsylvania State Senator Wayne Fontana announced that he has asked Allegheny County Controller Corey O’Connor to conduct a performance audit of VisitPittsburgh’s use of public tax dollars.
VisitPittsburgh is a private, nonprofit organization that the county has designated as its tourism promotion agency. This designation provides VisitPittsburgh with millions of dollars of tax funding annually from the Allegheny County Hotel Room Rental Tax.
“An independent audit of VisitPittsburgh’s use of the county Hotel Room Rental Tax would provide the public assurance that the millions of dollars provided to this private organization each year are being used as intended,” said Sen. Fontana. “Further, it would help to demonstrate the effectiveness of the programs administered by VisitPittsburgh to the county and city economies relative to tourism promotion.”
According to VisitPittsburgh’s annual reports, in just the past ten years—including 2020 and 2021 when tourism was severely curtailed by the pandemic—VisitPittsburgh received nearly $85 million in public tax revenue.
“A performance audit is appropriate, necessary, and timely,” added Sen. Fontana, noting that the General Assembly is considering legislation that could authorize the creation of a Tourism Improvement District to funnel even more tax dollars to VisitPittsburgh.
The County Controller has auditing and oversight authority of any county entity that authorizes the payment of, disburses, or receives county funds.
“Tourism is vital to the local economy and VisitPittsburgh’s activities help bring visitors and revenue to the region,” said Allegheny County Controller Corey O’Connor. “But all spending of public funds needs to happen in the public eye, and VisitPittsburgh’s advocacy for increased public funding dictates that we examine how it spends the taxpayer funds it already receives and the effectiveness of these efforts. My office will begin planning to include an examination of public funds received by VisitPittsburgh in our upcoming audit activities, and I thank Senator Fontana for his acknowledgement of the important work the County Controller’s office is able to do to safeguard taxpayer dollars.”