Altoona's financial distress coordinator has released a schedule calling for him to file a recovery plan Nov. 13 and hold a public hearing Nov. 28 - and for City Council to adopt the plan Dec. 19.
The setting of the schedule by consultant Stevens & Lee came after City Council aired concerns that the recovery plan would come too late to coordinate with their creation of a 2013 budget.
The city will need revenue enhancements or savings identified in the plan to balance the budget, which otherwise will have a $1.5 million to $2 million deficit, City Manager Joe Weakland has estimated.
Three city officials contacted Monday for comment on the schedule said it will be "tight."
"It leaves little room for edits," Councilman Dave Butterbaugh said.
It's tight because revisions submitted by council would need to be incorporated by the consultant into the plan by Dec. 7 - just 24 days after officials first see the plan and nine days after the mandatory public hearing.
Actually, the schedule would have been even tighter if the consultant had stuck with his earlier intention to file the plan Nov. 20 - a week later than now, Mayor Bill Schirf said.
"[Still] if everything goes smoothly, we should be able to get it done," Controller A.C. Stickel said.
And if things don't go smoothly?
"I don't want to think about it," Stickel said.
Schirf and others said it's unlikely that council will be in total agreement with the plan as presented, and so will need to make some revisions.
The plan is likely to be more than 100 pages, one official has said.
The scheduling concerns ultimately center around making sure there's enough time to adopt the plan and the budget despite waiting periods required before adoption of those documents and deadlines for obtaining "revenue enhancements" that would need to be part of both documents.
The schedule suggests that a hike in earned income tax will be part of the plan. The city is already at the maximum for both EIT and property tax, but Act 47 allows municipalities to exceed the caps on both.
There has been less talk about increasing millage.
The schedule calls for introducing tax ordinances Nov. 27 and adopting them Dec. 19. The schedule calls tentatively for a Blair County judge to hold a hearing Dec. 21 on the tax ordinances.
The schedule also calls for a previously announced public meeting - not mandated by Act 47 - at 6 p.m. Oct. 9 at the Devorris Downtown Center.
The coordinator team will listen to comments but won't make a presentation then, officials have said.
Residents won't have a proposed plan to react to, but they can prepare for the meeting by reviewing Act 47 plans adopted by other municipalities at a Department of Community and Economic Development website, Schirf said.
Schirf doesn't object to the plan taking longer than expected.
"I believe there are complicated issues here," he said. "I would rather have the coordinator and his team take their time and get it right."
Besides, council can revise the plan after adopting it, Butterbaugh said.
Mirror Staff Writer William Kibler is at 949-7038.