PFM director: Reading not ready to leave Act 47 program

READING, Pa. - Reading has been in Act 47, a state financial support program for cash-strapped cities, for nearly a decade, and now, it looks as though the city's time in the program will be extended.

"I don't think we've heard anything that would change again, our recommendation in terms of the three-year exit plan," said Gordon Mann, director of Public Financial Management.

Mann said the city still needs work.

"City government can be part of the answer, but it's not the whole answer," Mann said. "You need stronger housing. You need more people to live here. You need better jobs."

Those who spoke at a public meeting about the city's time in Act 47 touched on a variety of city concerns, including how the city is handling blighted properties.

"The process that's in place in the city is bad," said John Hefferon of Reading. "The city inspectors seem to be demoralized."

"They're not redoing those properties in 30 days," said Sheila Perez, also of Reading. "They're not starting on those properties. The properties are sitting there for years and years and years."

Mann said he has met with code inspectors to discuss those issues and others.

"We've asked them for recommendations on what would make things better," Mann said.

What does Mann say people who live in Reading can do to help?

"Get involved in the city government in a way that's focused on economic development," Mann suggested. "Get involved on the boards in the communities."

The next review of the city's Act 47 status will take place at the end of May.

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