Recent legislation passed by the Pennsylvania General Assembly offers a new short short-term borrowing option to local governments and school districts dealing with budget uncertainties related to the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic. House Bill 2536 was signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf on November 23, 2020, as Act 114 of 2020. Among other things, Act 114 created a special, limited emergency tax and revenue anticipation note program for the 2021 calendar year. The new program will provide greater financial flexibility to local governments and school districts as they await the results of tax collections in the coming months.
Continue Reading Short-Term Borrowing for Local Governments, School Districts in COVID Uncertainty

Many Pennsylvania municipalities in recent years have struggled to rein in their Other Post Employment Benefits (OPEB) liabilities. OPEB benefits are retirement benefits a public employer has promised to provide its retired employees, other than pension payments. Benefits might include life insurance premiums, post-retirement healthcare, dental and vision benefits and other types of benefits.

OPEB benefits are typically funded using one of two methods: (i) the pay-as-you-go method, which is generally paid each year from the municipality’s general fund; or (2) or an OPEB trust. A trust is typically established through an initial and then subsequent transfers of funds.   The trust funds are invested and the principal and interest are used to pay for the promised OPEB benefits.
Continue Reading Budgeting for OPEB Liabilities with an OPEB Trust

McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC today announced the launch of Keystone Municipal Solutions, a new subsidiary aimed at providing municipalities with interim management and professional consulting services.

Keystone Municipal Solutions is headquartered in Harrisburg and will serve municipalities across Pennsylvania, Delaware and New Jersey.
Continue Reading McNees Launches Keystone Municipal Solutions

On January 8, 2021, the Pennsylvania Department of Health (“DOH”) announced its COVID-19 Interim Vaccination Plan, Version 4.0 (the “Plan”).  The Plan follows guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (the “CDC”).  Categorized as “interim,” DOH intends to continuously make updates to the Plan to reflect the latest recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and other guidance available, as well as any feedback received.
Continue Reading Pennsylvania’s Latest COVID-19 Vaccination Plan Recognizes Local Governments

McNees Wallace & Nurick LLC has launched a new public relations agency to provide strategic communications services to its clients and the regional business community.

Apollo Communications is headquartered in Harrisburg and will serve clients across Pennsylvania, Ohio and Maryland. McNees has selected veteran public relations professional and former journalist Brett Marcy to serve as president of Apollo Communications.

The company is just the latest initiative by McNees to provide enhanced value to clients and the community, said McNees Chair Brian Jackson. In recent years, the firm has added full-service government affairs, grassroots advocacy and nonprofit consulting to its professional services portfolio.
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The author thanks the assistance of Matthew Hoke in writing this post.  Matt was a law clerk with McNees in 2020, and is expected to graduate from the University of Virginia law school in May of 2021. 

The Pennsylvania Public Official and Employee Ethics Act (Act) has been in effect since 1979 and must be

A municipality or school district that is issuing debt (referred to herein as an “issuer”) needs to employ legal counsel to assist it with the debt issuance process. There are several legal roles in a bond issuance, two of which involve representing the issuer.  To begin with, the issuer already has its regular solicitor who serves as the issuer’s general counsel on a wide range of legal issues, such as labor matters, bidding and contracts, land development, and litigation.  When an issuer decides to issue debt to finance or refinance a capital project, it should also retain a special counsel, known as bond counsel, to assist both the issuer and its solicitor with the debt issuance process.  Bond counsel firms specialize in the legal aspects of debt issuance, including tax law, securities law, and state statutory law.
Continue Reading The Relationship of Bond Counsel and Solicitor in a Bond Issue

On May 26, 2020 Representative Rob Freeman (Democrat – Northampton County) introduced House Bill 2548 in the Pennsylvania General Assembly, to provide a temporary reprieve to municipalities enrolled in Pennsylvania’s Municipal Financial Recovery Program. Mr. Freeman is the minority chair of the House Local Government Committee, the committee to which the bill was referred for consideration.
Continue Reading COVID-19 Related Extension Proposed for Pennsylvania Municipal Financial Recovery Program

Attending public meetings is a big part of any municipal law practitioner’s routine, and, if I’m being honest, one of my favorite parts of my job. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, members of my group, myself included, frequently attended County, township and borough meetings. While I understand that a township board of supervisors meeting might not be everyone’s idea of a fun Thursday night, I like watching government at work. In today’s world, how many spaces exist where citizens can engage directly with their elected officials?
Continue Reading Public Meetings in Pajama Pants