Act 47 Prescribes Remedies for Reading

Act 47 Prescribes Remedies for Reading

Though separated by a distance of over 200 miles and a population difference of more than 200k people, Pittsburgh and Reading now share the distinction of both being Act 47 financially distressed communities. Late last week Reading’s Act 47 plan was published on DCED’s website.

Reading has been operating at a deficit since 2007, and the recovery team recommends a variety of solutions related to workforce (a three year pay freeze, employees pay more for health benefits), turning services over the Berks County, and exploring various revenue raising options.

A brief snapshot of three indicators in Pittsburgh-which has been in Act 47 since 2004-and new entrant Reading shows that Reading has fewer employees (on a per 1000 person basis), its ratio of fringe benefits to salaries and wages is lower, and so too is its per capita debt level.




Headcount (FTE per 1000 people)



Ratio of Fringe Benefits to Salaries



Debt (per capita)



While Reading might find encouragement that its situation might not be as bad as Pittsburgh’s (which raises questions of its own since Pittsburgh has been in for six years and has a separate oversight board to boot) it should be known that only six municipalities have emerged from Act 47 since its inception. For every one community that has exited there are three still in fiscal distress.