IssuesPA Local Governance

Local Governance

Today, two out of every five Pennsylvanians live in a municipality in fiscal distress. As this number continues to grow, it is slowly and steadily undermining the commonwealth’s reputation as a stable place to raise a family or build a business. A common response to this trend has been to say, “its the bigger governments – places like Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Harrisburg, and Reading – that are in real financial trouble.” This point has also been used to fight against local government consolidation (even sharing of services or resources) noting that if bigger government is better why then are city governments in financial distress? Older cities are pitted against newer suburbs, with the leadership of urban communities painted as poster children for poor fiscal discipline. This politically favorable, if self-forgiving, narrative has replaced reality in our public discourse on this issue. ...Read more
The fact is that most cities studied in a recent Pennsylvania Economy League report did not generate enough tax money (from all sources of taxation) to pay for their fire department and their police department, let alone any other services. Most people find that statistic staggering, but it’s true. Easton, Lancaster, Reading, and York don’t generate enough tax revenues to cover the cost of their public safety departments, let alone provide parks, libraries or snowplowing. ...Read more
Maybe it’s time to give up on Camden remaining a municipality. A failed state takeover barely moved the city closer to being a self-sustaining entity. And new solutions proposed for Camden seem to have little chance of being implemented soon enough to keep it from strangling in debt. ...Read more
City Council overrode the mayor’s veto of their amended 2011 budget on Tuesday, effectively signing it into law. They also overrode the mayor’s veto of two staffing ordinances for the police and fire departments. The legality of the manning clauses has been contested by Mayor Chris Doherty. ...Read more
NJ has 566 municipalities which puts it in similar straits as PA regarding government fragmentation. ...Read more
ELGP report detailing the state revenues generated by the region as well as estimating Southeastern Pennsylvania’s share of Pennsylvania’s total economic activity. ...Read more
Apologies for the metaphor-mix, but I am not the writer that Pat Howard of the Erie Times-News is. His opinion piece describing the prevailing attitude in the Erie area against regionalism is heard across the Commonwealth. And all he's calling for is a movement to "halt decline." Read on. ...Read more
If you're looking for examples of municipalities that are undergoing structural change, look no further than the Center for Governmental Research. There are a baker's dozen of microsites for towns in the thick of it -- largely in the Northeast. ...Read more
They'd like to avoid what happened to Reading and is about to happen to Harrisburg. ...Read more
By January 12, 2012, the number of Earned Income Tax collectors will have decreased more than 85%, from 560 to just 69. ...Read more