In 1991, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania stepped in to save Philadelphia from financial crisis by creating the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (PICA) to help provide financial assistance. When it arrived in Philadelphia, PICA came with the power to issue bonds to benefit the City and has made available $1.138 billion in direct assistance to the City through debt issuance and capital program earnings.1 In addition, Philadelphia gets annual state funding that is contingent on it continuing to work with PICA.
In 2004, the Commonwealth similarly stepped in to save Pittsburgh by creating the Pittsburgh Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (Pittsburgh ICA) and charged it with “providing for financing” in Pittsburgh.2 Like in Philadelphia, the Pittsburgh ICA came with funds and technical resources to help Pittsburgh’s financial distress.
The City of Chester is facing a financial crisis and has been placed in Receivership by the Commonwealth. But, Chester is not being treated like Philadelphia or Pittsburgh were treated. According to Chester’s Mayor, the City agreed to accept the state’s help and appointment of a Receiver in April of 2020 because of promises made by Governor Wolf, and members of his administration from the Department of Community and Economic Development, that the Commonwealth would provide $15 million in assistance to Chester. The Commonwealth has not provided the $15 million in promised assistance, and Chester’s Mayor has expressed that he feels betrayed by Governor Wolf and the Department of Community and Economic Development Secretary Davin.3
Why is the Commonwealth and DCED withholding the promised $15 million in funds? Is this related to the additional revelations that the DCED and Aqua had been discussing a sale of the Chester Water Authority without including the City of Chester?4
3 See Video of 12/23/2020 Council Meeting (starting at approximately 48:40) posted at: https://www.facebook.com/238909049540462/videos/2775265249414502
4 See prior post “New Documents Further Reveal DCED’s Involvement in Attempted Hostile Takeover of the Chester Water Authority, Derailing of a Settlement Between the Authority and the City, and Acknowledgement that a Sale to of the Authority to Aqua would Lead to Dramatically Increased Rates”