Lehigh Valley

Mayors ask for help from Harrisburg

Mayors ask for help from Harrisburg

HARRISBURG, Pa. - Several mayors across the state spoke on Thursday before a joint legislative committee in Harrisburg on ways that cities could become more self-reliant without going into Act 47.

Reading Mayor Tom McMahon addressed the pressures not only as a mayor of a city that went into Act 47 in 2009, but also in his role as president of the Pennsylvania League of Cities and Municipalities.

"I'm glad we went into it, but the idea for the rest of our cities being affected by this over a long period of time, Act 47 isn't the long-term solution," said McMahon.

McMahon told 69 News that the league has a plan, but legislation under Act 111 needs to change. 

Under it, cities and towns can amend collective bargaining laws covering police and fire as well as reform municipal pension laws.

"We need the help of the Pennsylvania legislature who set sort of the ground rules and parameters as to how these negotiations take place," said Bethlehem Mayor John Callahan.

 "The cities also have a high degree of tax exempt non-for-profit entities and according to the law, we can't tax them and we're limited in our ability to do other kinds of tax," said McMahon.

Republicans argue that taxing residents more to bail out financially distressed cities is not the correct approach. 

PLCM officials told 69 News they are not asking for a bailout, but help from residents to run a local government more efficiently.

"Our goal is to put systems in place and get enough attention from the legislature to say let's make this run more efficiently whether it's pensions, arbitration and collective bargaining or whether it's the option for local taxation," said McMahon.



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