State Rep. Chelsa Wagner’s (D-Pittsburgh) resignation from the House of Representatives should have little effect on constituents, a spokesman for her office said Monday.
Effective Monday, Wagner—who was temporarily serving as both Allegheny County Controller and state representative—is no longer a state representative and will only hold the position of controller. Wagner collected only her legislative salary while serving in both positions, and—as of Monday—will only collect her county salary.
The resignation, as well as her acceptance of a more than $20,000 pay raise to her county salary, raised questions among constituents about Wagner’s pay and about which state representative to turn to in her absence.
Lou Takacs, a communication specialist for the controller’s office, said the pay raise is a cost-of-living increase that has been discussed for some time.
Takacs said a cost of living adjustment was approved for all row officers in 1999. But since no one claimed it, pay was not raised at that rate. Allegheny County row offices include the positions of controller, district attorney, sheriff and treasurer.
“Over 12 years, the cost of living has increased greatly,” Takacs said. “Basically, it brings the controller and treasurer salaries more in line with the other row officers, specifically the district attorney, but is in fact still lower than those (salaries).”
He said discussions about the salaries for those positions were happening before Wagner became controller.
“Certainly we acknowledge it’s a big increase,” Takacs said. “It’s our understanding that county council is looking into it, and that’s there prerogative to do so.”
As for Wagner’s resignation, Takacs said Wagner felt comfortable that the proper arrangements had been made to oversee the 22nd Legislative District. Five state representatives would take over parts of district, which is moving to the eastern part of the state.
The district currently includes the Pittsburgh neighborhoods of Brookline and Beechview, as well as Baldwin Township, Castle Shannon and Whitehall boroughs.
“It’s definitely going to be confusing for people,” Takacs said. “The way the districts were drawn under this plan is frankly, really unfair. We have neighborhoods split into two or three pieces, which is just really disappointing.”
He said it’s not ideal, but that Wagner is satisfied the state representatives taking over the area will provide the services needed and make sure everyone is prepared for the change.
Wagner’s offices in Brookline and Whitehall both will remain open, at least until the state Supreme Court approves the reapportionment plans, Takacs said.
State Rep. Matt Smith—who will represent portions of Brookline and Beechview under the new plan—said in an email Tuesday that he plans to maintain Wagner's Brookline office so there will be no disruption of services for constituents.
In the meantime, the offices will be managed generally by the Democratic Caucus. Takacs said no daily services provided by the offices would be affected, and that he expected the situation to last for a few weeks at most.