Voluntary Municipal Disincorporation

Many municipalities throughout Allegheny County are struggling to deliver high-quality municipal services because of shrinking tax bases and state funding cuts. Without these necessary services, residents and businesses are deprived of basic public safety, needed infrastructure improvements, and economic opportunities.

Recognizing this need, the Allegheny County executive requested that the Institute investigate the tool of voluntary municipal disincorporation. This tool allows a struggling municipality to voluntarily dissolve into the county in which it is located. The county would then provide municipal services to the former municipality in exchange for a tax or fee. The theory is that efficient and effective services can be delivered by the county by stretching revenue with economies of scale and by removing administrative redundancies. Disincorporation does not currently exist in Pennsylvania except under the newly revised Act 47 legislation pertaining to distressed municipalities. However, it is an available tool in 38 states, including the neighboring states of Maryland, New York, Ohio, and West Virginia.

To study this issue, the Institute formed the Voluntary Municipal Disincorporation Task Force, a committee of local government experts, including former county and state elected officials, academics, and local and state administrators. The task force was cochaired by former Allegheny County Executives Dan Onorato and Jim Roddey. The deliberation and research of the task force have been captured in the report title Voluntary Municipal Disincorporation: Creative Solutions for Counties of the Second Class.


Resource Information

News Coverage


  • Daniel C. Vock, "To Be, or to Disband? A Question Facing Shrinking Towns," August 2018 - Link

San Diego Union Tribune

  • Karen Pearlman, "When would a city not want to be a city anymore? When it’s broke," September 30, 2019 - Link

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

  • Gary Rotstein, “County officials present plan to let distressed municipalities disband,” May 11, 2017 - Link
  • Molly Born, “Officials to propose plan for disbanding municipalities,” May 11, 2017 - Link
  • Brian O’Neill, “Brian O’Neill: Does Allegheny County need all these governments?,” May 25, 2017 - Link
  • The Editorial Board, “V is for ‘voluntary’: Support an option to let municipalities disband,” May 28, 2017 - Link
  • Kate Giammarise, "Fragmented local government a challenge in addressing pockets of high child poverty in Allegheny County," January 16, 2019 - Link
  • Rich Lord, County Executive Fitzgerald calls for movement on voluntary municipal disincorporation bill, November 12, 2019 - Link

Pittsburgh Tribune Review

  • “In rare meeting, Allegheny County executives to discuss ‘voluntary municipal disincorporation’,” May 10, 2017 - Link
  • Theresa Clift and Jeremy Boren, “Allegheny County officials push proposal to allow municipalities to disincorporate,” May 11, 2017 - Link
  • Theresa Clift and Aaron Aupperlee, “Disbanding might be tough sell to Allegheny County municipalities,” May 11, 2017 - Link
  • “Laurels & Lances,” May 18, 2017 - Link
  • Kimberly Palmiero, “Bridgeville, Carnegie leaders question county’s disincorporation proposal,” June 6, 2017 - Link

KDKA – CBS Pittsburgh

  • Lisa Washington, “County Officials Weighing Disincorporation Proposal To Help Struggling Municipalities,” May 11, 2017 - Link

Pittsburgh Business Times

  • Tim Schooley, “Three Allegheny County chiefs team up on plan allowing municipalities to dissolve,” May 12, 2017 - Link
  • Mark Nordenberg, “Mark A. Nordenberg: A new option for financially distressed municipalities,” June 1, 2017 - Link

WESA – 90.5

  • Mark Nootbaar, “Fitzgerald, Former County Executives Support Disincorporating Municipalities,” May 12, 2017 - Link
  • Megan Harris, “Lead Plagues Pittsburgh & Disincorporation Rejoins The Conversation As Election Season Gets Underway,” May 19, 2017 - Link

Observer-Reporter (Washington County)

  • “EDITORIAL State disincorporation laws should be loosened,” May 22, 2017 - Link

Pittsburgh Courier

  • Christian Morrow, “County execs Fitzgerald, Roddey and Onorato push voluntary municipal disincorporation,” June 2, 2017 - Link