Earlier this month, all three of the men who’ve served as Allegheny County Executive visited the New Pittsburgh Courier to promote a plan that would allow struggling county municipalities to dissolve their governments.
The idea is not new—former county Controller Frank Lucchino first proposed it in the mid-1990s—but the fact that Rich Fitzgerald, Dan Onorato and Jim Roddey all are pushing Harrisburg to amend state law to allow it, is new. Roddey is a Republican, while Fitzgerald and Onorato are Democrats.
“It’s another tool in the toolbox,” said Fitzgerald. “It would allow struggling municipalities to dissolve their governments, before they get to the point of going into Act 47 (state-controlled bankruptcy).”
This latest move to reintroduce state legislation for voluntary disincorporation was prompted by the release of a report by the University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics, chaired by former Pitt Chancellor Mark Nordenberg.
If the general assembly takes up the legislation, Roddey said it would likely sail through.
“It’s only about municipalities in Allegheny County,” he said. “So why would legislators from the rest of the state care?”
Allegheny County’s 130 municipalities are second- most in the country, behind only Cook County, Ill. Some of these towns have dwindling tax bases and elderly populations that have difficulty providing services like street maintenance, said Onorato.