Creativity is the Watchword
Funding at all levels of government is tight and there is no sign that this trend will change quickly. Therefore, creativity is the watchword for projects of all magnitude,
especially if the earmarking at the federal level truly becomes an event of the past, and the State of Pennsylvania continues to be in deep financial trouble, threatening the traditional programs, let along not being able to start new services that may be badly needed. Recognizing that these trends may be with us for many years, the opportunity to innovate becomes more critical. here are a few ideas that could be tested in coming months.
1. Regional Asset District- this Allegheny County approach has been working for many years. It has not been adopted in other counties of the Commonwealth. It required special legislation to enable the District to become part of the role that has assisted many projects in the greater Pittsburgh area. Consideration should be given to adapting this approach elsewhere in the State.
2. Tax Sharing- this unique step has been taken in such places as the Twin Cities in Minnesota, the Meadowlands in New Jersey, in places in Ohio. When an economic development project locates in one jurisdiction, then the other shared tax jurisdiction, also, benefits. While a controversial step, tax sharing may be more likely in the future. the Pennsylvania Economy League did a special analysis of this concept several years ago.
3. Pennsylvania Economy League( PEL) may have even more important roles to play in governmental financial matters in the Commonwealth in coming years. Its reputation is solid, its professional staff is excellent, and the needs of local governments across the State are critical. One of its next steps might be to evaluate the financial steps that can be taken under the conditions that this State( and others) find themselves in presently.
4. With the new Administration in Harrisburg taking hold, perhaps a Financial Strategies Commission should be appointed, representing all sectors of the economy- private, public, and nonprofit- to come up with some new thinking regarding the structure of government, financial support, and other techniques that relate to and deal with aspects of funding of services.
5. A Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention has not been accomplished since 1968. It is time that such a grouping take place under the financial circumstances that currently exist. This would be a high level convocation that would consider changes that can be studied by such a group and recommendations and an action plan developed.
6. The Center for Rural Pennsylvania has published many reports of interest with specific stapes outlined that are recommended for adoption by the General Assembly of the Commonwealth. These actions should be compiled into a document that outlines such measures so that what has already been completed can be easily studied by the Legislature and appropriate actions taken.
While resolving the financial conditions in the Commonwealth will not be easy, there is always a need to think about strategies that can be creatively developed and eventually adopted, among which are the above six.
by Howard J. Grossman AICP
( Howard J. Grossman would be happy to provide consulting in any field relating to municipal and non-profit management. Contact him at GrossmanHJ@aol.com.)