PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — With signatures from Gov. Tom Wolf and Community & Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin, Pittsburgh is no longer an Act 47 distressed city.
“Gov. Wolf, Secretary Davin, Pittsburgh is back,” declared Mayor Bill Peduto to applause on Monday morning.
Davin said the headline was simple.
“This is rescission day. I am prepared to sign the order releasing the city from Act 47, so for you guys — the headline writers — should translate that into “Pittsburgh Takes Back Control,’” said Davin.
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Fourteen years ago, the city went into the state’s version of bankruptcy — a distressed city with too much debt and no real plan to get out of it.
“But the Pittsburgh of today is remarkably different from the Pittsburgh of 2004,” noted Wolf. “Through all of your work, you have remade this city. You have brought tech enterprises and global companies to the streets of Pittsburgh. You have become a financial and cultural titan in the region and in the world.”
An end to Act 47 status means the city can decide for itself how to spend its money without approval from state overseers.
And Peduto says the city code has been changed to prevent a repeat.
“We can’t borrow ourselves out of our problems. We won’t have the ability to spend more than we are taking in. And we’ll have to keep a reserve fund to make sure that there’s a safety net for the city in the future. Those and other safeguards have been placed into the city code,” noted the mayor.
The mayor said being out of oversight will allow the city to focus more on infrastructure needs.
“We’re going to be focusing on our roads, on our buildings, on our parks, on our playgrounds — on all the different infrastructure that unfortunately for the last 30 years has been left to crumble,” he said.
And another likely change — more police officers than the current 900.
“Our goal is to increase that number to as many as 950 officers,” Peduto said.
The mayor said more police would also cut down on overtime.
Now the Act 47 overseers are not the only ones looking over the city’s shoulder.
The ICA or Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority was created by the state legislature to provide oversight as well. On Monday, the ICA called on state lawmakers to abolish their agency, saying, “Pittsburgh is on solid financial footing, and has earned the right to manage its finances.”
No word from legislators on when this will happen.