Could Pittsburgh Shed Act 47 Status?
Close to five years ago the City of Pittsburgh asked the state to remove it from Act 47 distressed status. At that point the City had been in Act 47 for just under four years. If the request was denied, the City asked that a new recovery plan be written telling what should be done in order to emerge. That plan was written in 2009 and focused heavily on the City’s legacy cost issues.
With articles today reporting that the Act 47 coordinators wrote to the DCED secretary that Pittsburgh should have its distressed status removed (here and here) Pittsburgh would be the seventh municipality to leave the Act 47 fraternity. The most recent was the Allegheny County municipality of Homestead, which came out in 2007 after spending fourteen years under state watch. The three preceding Homestead were all Allegheny County towns: North Braddock (out in 2003 after close to eight years), East Pittsburgh (out in 1999 after seven years), and Wilkinsburg (out in 1998 after ten years).
The statute leaves the determination to the DCED secretary. A public hearing has to be held, and the law points out several factors shall be considered including the monthly coordinator reports, that accrued deficits have been eliminated, that obligations issued to finance the municipality’s deficit have been retired, and that the municipality has operated under a positive operating fund balance for at least one year. The 2009 amended recovery plan noted that it would give "…the City a clear strategy to address the remaining obstacles to full fiscal recovery [and] completing these steps will allow Pittsburgh to leave Act 47 oversight".