Shamokin votes to apply for Act 47

    This city in the middle of coal country may join a growing list of those in Act 47.

    Harrisburg is already in the program for distressed cities, but Shamokin in Northumberland County is a much smaller city.

     

    This story was first published by partner station WITF in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

    This city in the middle of coal country may join a growing list of those in Act 47.

    Harrisburg is already in the program for distressed cities, but Shamokin in Northumberland County is a much smaller city.

    It has 25 employees split between public works, police and code enforcement, and a bare-bones budget.

    But it also has more than $800,000 in unpaid bills from last year. The city’s deficits have also run higher than 5 percent for four straight years, and expects a $350,000 cash shortage by the end of 2014.

    So on Monday night, the City Council and Mayor voted unanimously to ask the state for help through Act 47.

    “We went about all the other angles that we tried. We were turned down by 3 different banks, and as those banks turned us down, time was getting shorter and shorter, all our creditors were waiting on their payments, and we just can’t put it off any longer,” says Mayor William Milbrand.

    “I fought it tooth and nail, I did not want to go into Act 47. Because, and I’ll be very honest with you, it’s a pride thing. I’m proud of this town and it’s really a pride thing. It hurts my pride to say that we had to go Act 47.”

    The state Department of Community and Economic Development will now review the city’s application, and it’s expected to make a decision within 45 days. The Mayor says the state has already offered a no-interest loan to cover its unpaid bills from last year.

    Mayor Milbrand says he hopes to extract health insurance concessions from the city’s employees, and remains hopeful for more economic development in the city.

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