Another Entrant into Act 47

Does this sound familiar? A city with "year end structural deficits that were addressed by one-time solutions; debt burden in excess of 10% of its general fund revenues; and a stagnant tax base that raises serious concern about the ability of the City…to generate the revenue necessary to support core municipal services".

It could be Pittsburgh, or one of any number of towns in the Mon Valley, but it turns out that the description is of Reading in Berks County, the Commonwealth’s fifth largest city (population of 80k according to the most recent Census estimate). Reading was just granted entrance into Act 47, a classification of municipal distress that holds 18 other cities currently and from which only 6 have emerged.

Four of the state’s ten largest cities are in some type of financial oversight, either Act 47 (Scranton and Reading), an oversight board (Philadelphia), or both (Pittsburgh). The Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED) has completed its initial assessment of the City and found that its per capita and median household income was lower than other similarly-sized cities as well as lower than Berks County and the Commonwealth.

How long the City will remain in Act 47 is anyone’s guess. Some have been in since 1987 and are operating under second, third, or even fourth revised plans. Reading is just beginning its quest for financial solvency.