Governor Wolf Announces Plymouth Township, Luzerne County is Ready to Terminate Distressed Status
May 03, 2016
Plymouth, PA – Governor Tom Wolf today announced that Plymouth Township’s status as a distressed municipality, under Act 47, has been terminated. Plymouth Township is the third municipality to exit Act 47 under the Wolf administration.
“Today’s signing is a celebration of the hard work and commitment by Plymouth Township’s leaders and residents to taking the necessary steps for improving the financial position of the township,” said Governor Wolf. “The road to fiscal stability is paved with tough decisions, teamwork, and dedication. It’s through these hard moments that strong, stable communities are established in Pennsylvania.”
Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Dennis Davin issued a determination letter in Plymouth Township’s Municipal Building today, finding that termination of the township’s distressed status was appropriate under Section 255.1 of Act 47. Davin made the decision after a thorough review of the city’s audits, financial data, and the record from a public hearing held on March 10, 2016.
“It’s been a long haul. It was a rough ride with nearly a million dollars in debt. We’ve had a lot of help from a lot of people,” said Gale Conrad, Chairperson of the Plymouth Township Board of Supervisors. “I thank the residents because they did without and they had faith in us. It has been a very hard, long storm, but with everybody, we weathered it. “
The Hearing Officer’s report indicated the township is demonstrating sound financial management practices, is on stable financial footing and that all operating fund deficits have been eliminated. The Hearing Officer also determined that the city now has the tools to make the decisions necessary to maintain responsible budgets, meet its obligations to vendors and creditors and provide essential services to township residents.
“Today’s ceremony is the result of hard work and effective, dedicated leadership. Twelve years ago Township Supervisors Gail Conrad, Ed Brennan, and the late Mike Manley made the difficult decision to ask the DCED for help. Plymouth Township was faced with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt and needed a plan for its future,” said Senator John Yudichak. “In later years, township leaders, including my father Joseph Yudichak and Christine Koturak, helped keep the recovery on track and met the challenge of overcoming three floods. This exit from Act 47 is truly a credit to the entire community that rallied around their leaders to secure their future.”
“It’s been a long journey for township officials to get to this point,” said Representative Gerald Mullery. “I applaud everyone for coming together to shed the label of being a distressed municipality.”
Plymouth Township was designated as distressed under Act 47 on July 27, 2004. This determination was made after years of uncontrolled spending and inadequate financial day-to-day management. The township suffered from insufficient revenues, the inability to control expenditures, and using debt to maintain necessary services.
The township, working with the Act 47 Coordinator and DCED, developed its original Recovery Plan in 2005. The plan, and its update in 2010, was designed to stabilize the township’s finances and operations. Along with many other components, the township’s recovery efforts included a change to a Home Rule Charter form of government, an increase in revenues supported by increasing the resident earned income tax rate, a countywide property reassessment in 2009, controls on expenditures, better overall management, and elimination of indebtedness.
The Municipalities Financial Recovery Act, Act 47 of 1987, was enacted to provide a broad-based program of fiscal management oversight, technical assistance, planning and financial aid to municipalities experiencing severe fiscal distress.
For more information on Act 47 or the Governor’s Center for Local Government Services visit www.newPA.com.
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