ALIQUIPPA — One of the first cities to join Pennsylvania’s fiscal recovery program left its “financially distressed’ status behind Friday after nearly 36 years.
The City of Aliquippa exited Pennsylvania’s Act 47 oversight program decades after the steel industry collapse eroded the town’s economic resources and tax base.
“The moniker of ‘distressed status’ is off our name,” said Aliquippa Mayor Dwan Walker, visibly moved and pausing occasionally to collect himself during Friday’s City Hall celebration. “Be proud of this date … 36 years of struggle, 36 years of ‘all you produce are football players,’ 36 years of ‘you’re nothing else but violence and crime.’ We have survived. We’re more than what they say we are.”
Aliquippa was designated a “financially distressed” municipality under Act 47 in late December 1987 – joining the program shortly after Farrell, Mercer County, became the first to enter the program. Farrell shed its status in 2019.
Act 47, facilitated by the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, was created to help municipalities facing severe financial distress by providing oversight, technical assistance and financial aid. It affords additional taxing powers to boost revenue and avoid bankruptcy while a city works to balance the budget and develop a plan for fiscal stability.
Aliquippa is the 27th municipality to exit Act 47. The city originally planned to leave by late June 2022, but that deadline was extended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jones & Laughlin Steel once employed thousands of mill workers in Aliquippa, but as those jobs faded in the 1970s and 80s, so, too, did