Senator Wayne Fontana

Allegheny County – April 13, 2023 – Today, State Senator Wayne Fontana issued the following statement on the release of the Allegheny County Controller’s performance audit of VisitPittsburgh:

I requested a performance audit of VisitPittsburgh in September of 2022, because of the grave concerns I have had around its handling of millions of dollars in public County Hotel Room Rental Tax revenues. I wanted a thorough review of the organization’s effectiveness before the state General Assembly considers authorizing the creation of a Tourism Improvement District to provide VisitPittsburgh with millions of dollars more of public money.

The County Controller’s performance audit of VisitPittsburgh confirms the suspicions many elected officials have had over the years. The audit verifies that VisitPittsburgh is not transparent in its use of public tax dollars, disregards basic accounting principles, overspends thousands of dollars on its operations, and is blatantly defiant to any kind of oversight.

The audit also exposes the lack of a coherent and organized strategy to bring conventions and sporting events to the city and region—an egregious failure in the competitive post-pandemic tourism economy.

Because the Controller’s audit showed that VisitPittsburgh is careless with public tax dollars, I am calling on the elected leadership of Allegheny County to exercise increased oversight of the agency, including a thorough re-evaluation of its designation as the county’s Tourism Promotion Agency. This designation entitles VisitPittsburgh to receive the millions in public tax proceeds from the Hotel Tax.

Our region has much to offer including state-of-the-art meeting facilities, world-class sports venues, beautiful outdoor and recreational assets, historic sites, a well-renowned cultural district, and popular museums. Unfortunately, VisitPittsburgh has failed to promote all of our region’s assets in a way that maximizes tourism opportunities, and it is clear that changes are necessary. The taxpayers deserve much more than they have been getting from VisitPittsburgh.

The County Controller’s audit is available here.