Altoona town hall meeting focuses on Act 47 progress

The City of Altoona will hold a town hall meeting at 6:30 p.m. today at City Council Chambers to discuss progress made on initiatives set by the Act 47 distress recovery plan, which has been in place for about a year.

An annual town hall meeting is itself one of the recovery plan’s initiatives – the second of two for which City Council is mainly responsible.

The “target outcome” is “community engagement transparency,” the plan stated.

The city manager, now interim manager Omar Strohm, is jointly responsible for the meeting, according to the plan.

Working with the Act 47 coordinator team, council and the manager must update residents on the Act 47 process, progress in putting the recovery plan into practice “and any other relevant issues.”

Mayor Bill Schirf, Strohm – who is also finance and human resources director – Information Technology Director Victor Curfman, Public Works Director Dave Diedrich, Police Chief Janice Freehling, Fire Chief Tim Hileman and Planning Director Lee Slusser will speak, according to the agenda.

“We’ll go over all 150 initiatives,” Strohm said last week during a City Council meeting.

The directors will handle those related to their departments, he said.

“I’ll review the rest,” he said.

One of the initiatives was to obtain agreements with the city’s three big labor unions in accord with guidelines of the plan – which include a pay freeze and benefit limitations. The city signed new three-year agreements with the police and non-uniformed workers recently.

The firefighters’ contract is going to arbitration.

Originally, officials expected the arbitration hearing to be this month, but due to scheduling difficulties, it’s been set for Jan. 31, Strohm said.

Schirf will welcome attendees at the town hall and make closing remarks, according to the agenda.

Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.