The state will decide today whether to admit Altoona to its Distressed Municipalities Program.
Today is the last day for the state to meet its deadline for a decision, and the Department of Community and Economic Development would meet that deadline, a spokeswoman said Wednesday.
The department hadn't sent word to the city by the end of business Wednesday, officials said.
Act 47, the Distressed Municipalities Act, requires Secretary C. Alan Walker to rule on distress petitions within 30 days of departmental Act 47 hearings. DCED held Altoona's Act 47 hearing April 3 and recommended the city be a part of the program.
The department will make the ruling on time despite speculation at recent City Council meetings that it wouldn't, because of short staffing.
Asked about a possible delay, department spokeswoman Theresa Elliot wrote in an email that she would have no comment beyond her assurance the ruling would come down on time.
Act 47 doesn't impose penalties on the state even if it misses the deadline, however, city solicitor Larry Clapper said.
Nor does the Act take the decision away from the state for missing the deadline by automatic approval - "deemed approved" - as does the law in some instances, Clapper said.
City officials have predicted the state will accept Altoona into the program, as the city meets three qualifying criteria. It's only necessary to meet one criterion.
Acceptance into the program would trigger a series of steps, each requiring completion within a prescribed period.
Within 30 days, Walker would need to appoint an Act 47 coordinator, Clapper said. Within 90 days of the department signing a contract with the coordinator, the coordinator would need to draw up a recovery plan.
During the 15 days after the coordinator files the plan, the coordinator would take comments, and within 20 days of the plan's filing, there would need to be a public meeting.
After the public meeting, council would have 25 days to approve the plan.
If approved, the city would follow the plan.
If it doesn't approve, council would have 14 days to submit its own plan.
Within 10 days of that plan's submission, there would need to be a public hearing, after which council could adopt its own plan.
If council fails to adopt any plan, it has 10 days to show why the state
shouldn't withhold a variety of funding - although it couldn't withhold money for contracted projects, disaster relief or pension funds.
After hearing those arguments, the state would have 20 days to suspend the funding.
Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.