Well, that part was easy.
Two days after receiving Altoona's Act 47 financial recovery plan from consultant Stevens & Lee, City Manager Joe Weakland has created a balanced draft budget for next year.
Ultimately, this is what Act 47 is about: making ends meet.
In the short term, based on the draft 2013 budget, the plan will achieve that objective, provided City Council approves a version of the recovery plan next month that includes a hike in earned income tax.
That hike, 0.25 percentage points for residents and 0.15 percentage points for non-residents for the first year, will provide an additional $2.1 million for next year.
That by itself will more than wipe out the $515,000 projected overall deficit predicted for next year in the recovery plan's Appendix 2, creating a surplus, which Weakland plans to put into a contingency fund.
The plan recommends the city maintain a fund balance surplus of 5 percent of the budget each year.
The recovery plan projections on page 308 of the PDF version of the plan show that this year is ending with better results than initially expected.
Officials last year talked of an operational deficit for 2012 that the city's fund balance could only just cover.
According to the recovery plan chart, however, the city's 2012 budget, while predicting an operational deficit of $1.6 million, initially projected enough of a beginning fund balance to leave $1 million at the end.
As 2012 nears its conclusion, the operational deficit will be even less - $1.3 million. The projected ending fund balance will be more - $1.6 million.
In addition to the additional earned income tax revenue enabled by Act 47, Weakland's new draft budget will include an increase of 10 percent for fee and license charges and other revenues provided by plan-suggested "initiatives."
It will not include a 4 percent reduction of expenses other than personnel and utility costs, as recommended in the plan.
"Can't do it," Weakland said.
Management has been going over the budget to reduce the reducible items for years, Weakland said.
Mayor Bill Schirf, who has been holding office hours at City Hall for anyone who wants to discuss the plan, was pleased at Weakland's draft budget proposal.
"This is the way we should be doing business," he said. "I think there will be a balanced budget for the next four years."