An Odd Act 47 Situation
Next week there will be a public meeting held to take input on what will constitute the third recovery plan for the City of Pittsburgh under Act 47. Residents will be able to give their thoughts on “what they think the plan should focus on, what they think the city is missing, whatever they want to say” according to one of the Act 47 coordinators.
Here’s one: if the coordinators felt strongly in 2012 that “it is time for Act 47 status for Pittsburgh to be rescinded” are they “all in” to see that the City makes it through another recovery plan that might be in effect for another five years?
A quick summary: Pittsburgh entered Act 47 in 2003 and began operating under its first recovery plan in 2004. Four years later City Council petitioned the state to get out, an action the recovery coordinators disagreed with at a 2008 hearing. A second, revised Act 47 plan became effective in 2009. The City asked again in 2012 and this time the coordinators were in support, and wrote a rescission report to DCED.
But the Mayor argued to stay in Act 47 and the state agreed, so now it appears as though the coordinators who said the City had done what it needed to do will stay on board.
To be sure, in the 2012 rescission report the Act 47 coordinators pointed out the long-term structural issues that need to be dealt with—pensions, health care, capital spending, non-profit relations, etc.—but noted “City staff can focus on the continuous improvement of daily operations and resident services while the ICA [oversight board] tackles the long-term issues and paves a path toward long-term fiscal stability”. There was no mention of the role Act 47 would play in the coming years; now there appears to be a reversal.