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Shrinking Towns Seek the Right to Dissolve

Small jurisdictions in Pennsylvania are losing population and revenue, and some of them are ready to call it a day.
August 24, 2018, 11am PDT | Elana Eden
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James R. Martin

Much of Pennsylvania's Allegheny County has been losing population for years; even Pittsburgh is affected. But many of the county's smaller towns had just a few thousand residents to begin with—and now, some may be approaching the point when they can no longer support their own municipal government. Governing reports on a proposal from the county executive that aims to make it easier for those towns to disincorporate.

"Thirty-eight states allow for towns to disincorporate, but the only option for Pennsylvania cities to do so is to enter the state’s Act 47 program for financially distressed municipalities," Daniel Vock explains. "Disincorporation is seen as a last resort in that process, and it’s one that can take years of bureaucratic maneuvering." The proposal would streamline the process for struggling municipalities to dissolve and instead take advantage of Allegheny County's existing overhead and "strong economic climate" to obtain public services.

The legislation is opposed by municipal associations; Pennsylvania has more local governments than almost any U.S. state, Vock reports.

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Published on Tuesday, August 21, 2018 in Governing
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