Reading adopts plan to shed financially distressed status
A look down 14 1/2 Street in Reading. (Matt Smith for WHYY)
(Harrisburg) — Reading’s city council has unanimously passed a plan to exit the state’s program for financially distressed cities.
The plan gives the city about three years to leave Act 47, though council president Jeff Waltman said he would like to get out sooner.
The strategy relies on managing Reading’s reserves and boosting economic growth.
Waltman said the city has a $94 million budget this year and about $16 million is dedicated to pension obligations, which is why he’s pushing for pension reform at the state level.
“And that would be a huge impetus to the city,” he said. “We could add some more revenue to operations, and we could lower taxes.”
Waltman added he’s hoping the city can keep some special taxing authority provided by the program, such as a commuter earned income tax.
“It’s been a big added help and our argument has been with some of the state legislators is that if it makes sense in Act 47 it should make sense outside of Act 47,” Waltman said.
Last year, Harrisburg successfully lobbied the state legislature to let it keep some special taxing authority for five years following its exit from Act 47.