Study: Should Philly's fiscal watchdog disappear as planned or stay longer?

By KYW Newsradio 1060
PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Philadelphia averted financial collapse 30 years ago when the state created the Pennsylvania Intergovernmental Co-operation Agency, or PICA, which has overseen city finances ever since. But the day is approaching when the agency would close under the law that created it, and a report has been released on whether it should stay open. 

Pew's Philadelphia Research Initiative director Larry Eichel is careful not to attribute the city's current fiscal health exclusively to PICA but, he says it played a role. 

"Our research found the PICA-era has consisted of nearly three decades of relative financial stability for the city of Philadelphia," he said. 

But in 2023, the bonds PICA issued to bail the city out in the early '90s will be paid off, and PICA would sunset. 

"Officials would have to decide whether to continue some of the practices that PICA has imposed, such as the annual 5-year financial planning process, and there might be talk of creating some kind of local oversight agency," Eichel added. 

The Kenney administration, though, would like PICA to remain. Officials say it's helped improve the city's bond rating and helped assure labor contracts were in line with city finances, among other benefits. 

PICA also thinks it still has a role to serve and in line with the PICA mission, Pew recommends advanced planning if the agency is to stay.