In 2003, the city of Pittsburgh was operating under a debt burden of more than 20% of its operating budget. Pools and recreation centers had to close and hundreds of city employees, including police officers were laid off.
Pittsburgh was declared financially distressed and placed under Act 47 oversight.
As the local economy has stabilized, former Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, along with Act 47 coordinators have said the city is ready to be released. But Pittsburgh's new Mayor Bill Peduto is asking Governor Corbett to keep the city under Act 47 oversight to allow his administration to work on a final recovery plan.
Duquesne University Law Professor and former city executive Joseph Sabino Mistick explains why he thinks the mayor is taking such a deliberate approach.
“Peduto’s coming in at a difficult time fiscally for the city. You can say that we’re on the right path, but we're not quite there. There were, I believe, 100 recommendations in the Act 47 Recovery Plan and Luke Ravenstahl embraced maybe 20 of them so there is more work to be done. I think the other problem is that everywhere Peduto looks he finds little surprises. It's a little like having a pet that’s not completely housebroken, who leaves surprises for you in unexpected places. So as he’s looking at the housekeeping of the city of Pittsburgh, he’s finding places where there is not money where he thought there would be and there’s debt where he thought there would be none.”