Pittsburgh Removal from State Act 47 Distressed Status
I am pleased to report that during a ceremony in the Mayor’s Office yesterday, Governor Wolf officially removed Pittsburgh from state Act 47 financial recovery oversight. I have supported Pittsburgh’s removal from Act 47 oversight for quite some time, so yesterday’s action was a great day for Pittsburgh. The governor’s announcement verifies what we already knew – the Act 47 process has run its course.
The Municipalities Financial Recovery Act, Act 47 of 1987, was enacted to provide abroad-based program of fiscal management oversight, technical assistance, planning and financial aid to municipalities experiencing severe fiscal distress. Pittsburgh has operated under Act 47 status for 14 years, entering on December 29, 2003.
During the last round of review and public hearing by the state Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED), findings indicated that, bolstered by careful budget governance and a recent surge in the city’s technology and medical sectors, the city has stabilized its finances, and now operates with healthy surpluses that are projected to continue. It also reported the city’s debt service is reasonable and manageable when compared with the overall budget, and that city administrators have developed a strategy for fiscal management that pays for the necessary city services such public safety and public works, funds employee pension plans, invests in capital improvements, and controls costs.
Working with DCED, the mayor, his administration and city council have worked tirelessly to put Pittsburgh on stable financial ground and I am confident that the city’s economic success and sound administrative guidance will continue. Since being placed in Act 47 status, Pittsburgh has implemented numerous best practices and financial safeguards and I commend everyone for their hard work, diligence and determination to overcome the financial challenges that triggered the distressed city designation in the first place.
Pittsburgh’s future has never been brighter. Our diversified economy is flourishing, our economic growth has surpassed expectations, our jobs numbers are promising and we are seeing astounding growth and reinvestment throughout the city. Our emergence from Act 47 oversight is proof positive that Pittsburgh is once again on the rise.
A 2018-2019 Budget Proposal
The proposed 2018-19 budget has been announced that builds upon Governor Wolf’s first three budgets by continuing to make necessary investments in education, workforce development and job training while also protecting our most vulnerable citizens like those with an intellectual disability, seniors and individuals who are battling opioid addiction. Overall, the proposed budget totals $32.987 billion, which is a 3 percent increase over 2017-18 fiscal year.
I have highlighted some areas of the budget that I feel my constituents are most interested in:
- $100 million Basic Education Funding increase which will be distributed using the fair funding formula created by the Basic Education Funding Commission.
- $20 million more for Special Education Funding.
- $40 million Pre-K funding increase which includes Head Start. This additional funding will provide resources to add approximately 3,500 high-quality pre-k seats.
- $11.6 has been earmarked for early intervention programs for young children with developmental delays and disabilities.
- $5 million for the Ready to Succeed Scholarships which are available to middle income students to pursue post-secondary degrees at any Pennsylvania college, university or technical school.
- $15 million more for the PA State System of Higher Education.
- $232.1 million for the state’s 14 community colleges.
- $10 million for additional career and technical education funding.
- $50 million for a new PA Smart initiative addressing 21st Century Jobs and Skills training.
- Increase minimum wage to $12 an hour.
- $12 million to continue the Manufacturing PA Initiative.
- $5 million more for PA First Program which includes an additional $2 million for the workforce development worker training program, WedNet. With this increase, the program is expected to create 3,800 jobs and retain 14,000 jobs.
- An additional $7 million for the new Apprenticeship Training program.
Healthcare and Helping Those Who Need Additional Assistance:
- $25 million in state funds, with a $5 million federal match, to expand access to high quality child care.
- Maximizing Federal CURES Act funding ($26.5 million) to combat the heroin and opioid crisis.
- $4.5 million to provide training to service providers as well as around 800 families affected by the opioid epidemic through evidence-based home visiting models.
- $2 million to expand drug specialty courts.
- $74 million increase to support services for individuals with intellectual disabilities and autism, including funding to reduce waiting lists and allow in home services.
- $2.5 million for Lyme Disease education, prevention activities, and surveillance.
- An additional $44.478 to support County Child Welfare programs.
- Nearly $27 million to serve an additional 2,290 older Pennsylvanians under the Home and Community Based Services.
- $5.5 million for the Living Independence for the Elderly program which will serve about 480 more Pennsylvanians.
- $33 million for the Services to Persons with Disabilities and the Attendant Care program which will help 3,000 more individuals.
If you would like to see a more detailed breakdown of Governor Wolf’s proposed budget, please click here.
Transportation Projects Funded
I was pleased last week that six state multimodal grants totaling nearly $5 million were awarded to projects in the 42nd Senatorial District. These state dollars will help communities advance and complete a number of important projects aimed at enhancing efficiency, safety and improving access throughout our region.
The six projects include:
- Sharpsburg Borough – $1.5 million grant for the Main/19th intersection upgrades and road construction. Plans call for reconstructing 19th Street to the Riverfront 47 development including: intersection upgrades, signal installation, removal of overpass and retaining walls and construction of retaining walls. The total project cost is $4.075 million.
- Bellevue Borough – $315,000 grant for work on the West Riverview Retaining Wall. The retaining wall project will eliminate emergency access safety and inefficient traffic problems. It is expected to enhance safety for both pedestrian and vehicular traffic. The total project cost is $450,000.
- Castle Shannon Borough – $1.595 million for Castle Shannon Streetscape Phase II. Workers will provide handicapped access between three transit stations in Castle Shannon. The access and safety improvements will complement a new 152-unit apartment building being built on the Allegheny Port Authority parking lot. The total project cost is estimated at $3.333 million.
- McKees Rocks Harbor Services, LLC – $638,015 grant for the McKees Rocks Harbor Services Barge Fleeting Area. This phase of the project will create the fleeting area for the first 12 of 25 barges. The total project cost is $911,450.
- Metalico Pittsburgh, Inc. – $400,000 grant for a dock rehabilitation project that will require the installation of approximately 225 linear-feet of sheet pile wall. Once the restoration project is completed, it will provide river barge loading capabilities for another 20 years. The total project cost is $615,000.
- Friends of Pittsburgh Professional Soccer – $500,000 grant for the Montour Junction Multimodal Project, which will enable officials at the Sports & Athletic Complex at Montour Junction to complete Phase II transportation improvements, including safe access for bikes, buses and pedestrians. The total project cost is $2 million.
The multimodal funds (Act 89 of 2013), administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), support ports and rail freight, increase aviation investments, establish dedicated funding for bicycle and pedestrian improvements and allow targeted funding for priority investments in any mode. The grants are aimed at improving efficiency, safety and transportation mobility. In this funding round, PennDOT was able to fund 45 projects in 22 counties for a total of $41.5 million.
Did You Know…
Did you know that PennDOT received 222 applications requesting more than $241 million in multimodal funding?
All Senate offices will be closed next Monday, Feb. 19 in observance of Presidents’ Day. My offices will re-open as scheduled on Tuesday, Feb. 20.
Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program
The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue is now accepting applications for the 2017 Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program. If you filed a paper rebate last year, you should receive an application in the mail. Applications are also available at my district offices, online at www.revenue.pa.gov or by calling 1-888-222-9190. As always, my staff would be happy to assist you in preparing your application.
The Property Tax/Rent Rebate Program benefits eligible Pennsylvanians age 65 and older; widows and widowers age 50 and older; and people with disabilities age 18 and older. The income limit is $35,000 a year for homeowners and $15,000 annually for renters. Please keep in mind, half of Social Security income is excluded.
Applications are due to the Department of Revenue by June 30 and rebates will be distributed beginning July 1. The program is funded by the Pennsylvania Lottery and revenue from slots gaming.
I want to again remind everyone the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (DHS) is accepting applications for this season’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). The program helps low income families pay their heating bills. You can apply and check the status of your application on the state’s COMPASS website. You can also pick up an application in my district offices or download one yourself from the DHS LIHEAP website. Completed paper applications should be returned to the Allegheny County Assistance Office, located at 5947 Penn Avenue, 4th Floor, Pittsburgh, PA, 15206.
Funding for LIHEAP is provided by the federal government and eligibility is based on the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines. The income limits for this season are as follows:
After your application is received you will receive a written notice explaining your eligibility and the amount of assistance you will receive. Payments are generally sent directly to a utility company or fuel provider and will be credited to your heating account. Crisis grants may also be available if you have an emergency situation and are in jeopardy of losing your heat. For more information, please contact the LIHEAP hotline at 1-866-857-7095.
Small Water and Sewer Program
I want to remind municipalities and municipal authorities that the Commonwealth Financing Authority and Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development (DCED) are accepting applications for the Small Water and Sewer Program that was reauthorized as part of the budget in October. Both municipalities and municipal authorities are eligible to apply.
Grants received through this program are for activities to assist with the construction, improvement, expansion, or rehabilitation or repair of a water supply or sanitary sewer system. Eligible projects are those which have a total project cost of not less than $30,000 and not more than $500,000. A link to the guidelines and online application can be found by clicking here or visiting https://dced.pa.gov/programs/pa-small-water-sewer/.
Allegheny Lead Safe Home Program
Preventing children from coming into contact with lead is of the utmost importance. Those younger than age 6 exposed to lead by ingesting paint, soil, food, or water containing it are in danger of damaging their developing brains and nervous systems. Making matters worse, lead dust often is invisible to the naked eye.
The Allegheny Lead Safe Home Program was created to prevent that potential exposure. It provides one-on-one education, lead-paint testing, and home repairs for free. Certified Lead Abatement Contractors are hired for repair and/or replacement of paint, flooring, windows, doors and trim. They also provide a visual inspection and further lead testing after their work is done.
For more information about the program, call 412-227-5700, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.alleghenycounty.us/leadsafeprogram.
William Howard Taft, our 27th president, was the only man ever to serve as president and chief justice of the United States. Taft was elected in 1908 and served as president from 1909-1913. In 1921, Taft was appointed chief justice of the Supreme Court by President Warren G. Harding.
Offices of State Senator Wayne D. Fontana
| Brookline District
932 Brookline Blvd.
Pittsburgh, PA 15226
Weekdays – 9 am – 5 pm
543 Main Capitol |
Harrisburg, PA 17120
Weekdays – 8:30 am – 5 pm
524 Pine Hollow Road
Weekdays – 10 am – 4 pm
| Beechview Satellite
1660 Broadway Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15216
|Northside (Mobile Office)
Carnegie Library |
1230 Federal Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15212