Some PA Cities May Never Get Out Of State’s Protection

HARRISBURG PA – Twenty-six economically distressed Pennsylvania cities, but none (so far) located in Montgomery County, have filed for assistance under the state’s Financial Distressed Municipalities Act program, The Pennsylvania Independent online news service reported last week (Nov. 30, 2011). Once a city is in, though, it’s proved tough to get out, because municipal governments seem unable to survive without the hand-to-mouth funding the act supplies for their operations.

The state capitol

Approved in 1987, the act aims to help municipalities that are teetering on bankruptcy to restructure debt and get government funding to help meet obligations and maintain their infrastructure. Problem is, according to The Independent, no city has emerged from the act’s protection because of harsh economic times. All need the benefits the program provides, it said.

Cities under the act’s protection now are Aliquippa, Ambridge, Braddock, Chester, Clairton, Duquesne, East Pittsburgh, Farrell, Franklin, Greenville, Harrisburg, Homestead, Johnstown, Millbourne, Nanticoke, New Castle, North Braddock, Pittsburgh, Plymouth, Rankin, Reading, Scranton, Shenandoah, West Hazleton, Westfall, and Wilkinsburg.

“We can’t operate without (state) money that comes from the nonresident wage tax,” Scranton Mayor Chris Doherty acknowledged. His city, like some others, have laid off workers by the score to pare expenses, but employee wages continue to represent the bulk of their costs.

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