State officials have deemed Harrisburg “financially distressed,” and are moving forward with a plan to provide the city with financial protection.
Harrisburg is the 20th Pennsylvania city to be under Act 47 supervision joining Pittsburgh, Scranton, Reading, Chester and 15 others in seeking state help for financial problems.
Richard Schuettler of the Pennsylvania League of Cities and Municipalities says it’s a troublesome trend.
"If all of the core communities in Pennsylvania are starting to fail, what does it say for Pennsylvania as a state, and our ability to grow? I think we need to focus on that fact, and focus on - we need these communities to be healthy. The healthier they are, the healthier the state is. And the more attractive we are to businesses and residents."
Schuettler says municipalities’ problems are due to what he calls an antiquated tax structure, on top of burdensome service demands. He says population shifts from cities to suburbs have hurt, too.
"We have this hollowing out of our core communities. And the way that the tax structure in Pennsylvania and the system they’re operating under simply antiquated and won’t work. Certain expenses are forced upon them, and they simply don’t have the revenue streams to support that."
Act 47 designation lets cities work with state-appointed coordinators to create recovery plans. It also provides access to state loans and grants, and lets municipalities restructure their debt.