Pittsburgh’s Finances Reach an Important Milestone

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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The city’s recovery has “captured the attention of the nation, and, frankly, the world,” according to Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf.

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf joined Pittsburgh Mayor William Peduto and the state’s Secretary of the Department of Community Development Dennis Davin on Monday to make it official: Steel City has emerged from Act 47 oversight, Pennsylvania’s law for municipalities with distressed finances.

In 2004, Pittsburgh officials agreed to Act 47 oversight, a status that was renewed in 2009 and 2014, which prompted controls on the city’s spending, an increase in taxes and adoption of fiscal reforms.

“This turnaround wasn’t easy—it took a lot of hard work, a lot of collaboration, and yes, some constructive arguments about where the city was headed, but in the face of it all, Pittsburgh stood united—desperately working to improve its stability and its financial health,” the governor said in a statement. “Pittsburgh’s recovery has captured the attention of the nation, and, frankly, the world. We’ve transformed a rust belt city that was a symbol of economic decline into one of the most dynamic examples of innovation for the new economy in the world.”

Peduto, who won re-election last year and promised to bring the city’s finances out of state oversight, said in a statement: "Act 47 was the tool we needed to bring our financial house in order and pave the way for Pittsburgh's economic resurgence. Now our challenge is to continue building upon the fiscal discipline it taught us and not revert to the poor budget habits of our past."

In November, Peduto introduced local legislation aimed at cementing “that fiscal discipline by adopting caps on pension enhancements and standards regarding debt service; retiring unspent capital funds; and maintaining a healthy fund balance,” according to the city’s announcement.

Stefani Pashman, CEO of the Allegheny Conference on Community Development said, in a statement: “The city’s exit from the Act 47 program is important because it demonstrates to the financial markets and to employers looking to invest in the region that the city has taken the appropriate steps to get its fiscal house in order while continuing to make investments in transportation, parks, and public safety.”

Michael Grass is Executive Editor of Government Executive’s Route Fifty and is based in Seattle.

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