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Paperwork to leave financially distressed status to be filed May 19
The City of Duquesne will file paperwork to exit state oversight on May 19.
At this month’s council meeting, Act 47 Coordinator George Dougherty reported that after the paperwork is filed, the public will be invited to attend a meeting at City Hall on June 8 to comment and make suggestions about the proposed plan for the city to leave “financially distressed” status.
State Act 47 of 1987, also known as the Financially Distressed Communities Act, was created in the wake of the collapse of the steel industry. It gives fiscally strapped municipalities the chance to access state government assistance, restructure their debt and take other steps to restore financial health, in exchange for being subject to increased scrutiny by state officials.
Duquesne has been classified as “financially distressed” since 1991. Only five other communities — Aliquippa, Braddock, Rankin, Franklin in Cambria County, and Farrell in Mercer County — have been on the list longer.
East Pittsburgh, Homestead and Clairton were classified as Act 47 communities but all have now exited the status.
Before Duquesne can be released from Act 47, city officials would have to testify in front of a state government panel in July. The designation could be lifted as early as the end of 2023.
And then, Mayor R. Scott Adams said, the city will have to adhere to a simple principle: “Don’t spend what you don’t have.”
Despite the possible release of Act 47 status, not everything is rosy, financially. Dougherty said some supportive grants the city is receiving could be coming to an end.
In addition, Allegheny County is widely expected to do a county-wide property tax reassessment when a new executive takes office in 2024. If that happens, Duquesne’s property values are expected to decline up to 17 percent, officials said.
The city also is considering a property tax increase next year, officials said.
Councilman Derek Artim proposed a Financial Policy and Budget Process for the city once it is out of Act 47. The resolution passed 4-0, with Councilman Timothy Caldwell absent.
In other business, City Treasurer Maureen Strahl told Solicitor Myron Sainovich and council that she has accepted a new job outside of the municipality and asked if she would need to resign.
After some discussion, Sainovich and Mayor Adams agreed that Strahl’s new position would not cause a conflict of interest.
Adams added that Strahl is “doing a fine job” and “wouldn’t want her to jeopardize her employment,” but hoped that she wouldn’t step down.
Strahl said that she was prepared to resign, but was relieved that she would not be forced to do so.
Tom Leturgey is a freelance writer based in Pittsburgh and the editor of KSWA Digest, the online news and features home of the Keystone State Wrestling Alliance. His work also appears in The Valley Mirror and other publications.
Originally published May 04, 2023.