Tonight's presentation to Altoona City Council about the state's procedures for distressed municipalities comes as no surprise.
The writing has been on the wall for several years. In fact the only surprise might be that Altoona managed to hold off on seeking relief under the state's distressed municipalities program for as long as it has.
But the day of reckoning is near.
Tonight's presentation will be the first step in what should be a long discussion as to whether Altoona seeks distressed status from the state under the Municipalities Financial Recovery Act of 1987, commonly known as Act 47.
A representative from the state Department of Community and Economic Development will make a presentation to council members at 6 p.m. today in the City Training Facility and Council Chambers, 1320 Washington Ave. The public is invited to attend.
We hope there is a large turnout because this issue is critical to city residents and businesses. It's important that taxpayers become informed about what Act 47 can and can't do.
Act 47 won't be able to solve the underlying factors including a declining population, a stagnating tax base and rising costs that have created the city's financial predicament.
It's expected that Altoona has enough in reserves to cover this year's operational deficit of $1.6 million, but the city's coffers will be virtually empty when the year ends. Next year, Altoona likely will face a $1 million or more deficit.
As we've seen from other municipalities - including Johnstown, Pittsburgh and Harrisburg - Act 47 still leaves municipalities with huge obstacles. But at this point, it's the only option.
It would be great if Altoona could avoid having to become distressed. But City Council is wise in learning more just in case.