Altoona is broke and has lots of company

    The state has declared Altoona, Pennsylvania as financially distressed, making it the 27th municipality to enter the commonwealth’s Act 47 program. It’s part of a developing trend. 

     

    Altoona is the 11th mid-sized city to receive protection under Act 47.That means roughly 20 percent of Pennsylvania’s mid-sized cities are financially distressed.

    Steven Kratz, with the Department of Community and Economic Development, says the story of Altoona isn’t so different from that of mid-size cities across the state.

    “The most recent recession certainly hit ’em hard as far as tax revenue coming into the city,” said Kratz.

    Harrisburg and Reading are among the cities under Act 47 status.

    Six municipalities have successfully left the program, but they were all boroughs.  

    Altoona is a once-industrial town that owed most of its growth in the early 1900s to its spot along the Pennsylvania Railroad.

    Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

    It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.