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Task Force Proposes Giving Financially-Stressed Municipalities Emergency Taxing Options
September 19, 2013- Don Rooney
HARRISBURG- When a city gets into financial trouble, the state takes over and tries to steer it back into financial health. But cities are finding it difficult to get out from under state control. A task force is coming up with ways for cities to take control of their own finances again.
Act 47 allows the state to take over the finances of cities and municipalities on the verge of bankruptcy and steer them back to financial health. Cities that have seen various levels of state intervention under Act 47 include Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Scranton, Reading, Johnstown and Altoona. A Task Force made up of lawmakers and experts has been working to update Act 47 to meet the needs of more and more Pennsylvania communities that need financial help. 
Sen. Blake says the task force will recommend new legislation this fall. Among the ideas being considered is a provision that Act 47 municipalities be given additional tax options to shift revenue sources and stabilize their finances, but with limits on what taxes would be available and the length of time those taxes would be in place. Another provision would be to limit the amount of time a municipality is under Act 47 status to five years, after which the municipality would find itself in either fiscal solvency, state receivership, bankruptcy protection or even disincorporation.
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