Sylvia King

Johnstown city council woman the Rev. Sylvia King meets with The Tribune-Democrat on Tuesday, Oct. 12, 2021.

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – Johnstown City Councilwoman the Rev. Sylvia King has emphasized the need to improve all of Johnstown’s neighborhoods, not just a select few, in recent years and during her reelection campaign for City Council.

She has been active in the Greater Johnstown United Neighborhoods Association, along with other nonprofits, including the Cambria County Drug & Alcohol Program, NAACP Johnstown Chapter, Vision Together 2025 and the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, while also serving as pastor at Christ Centered Community Church in Kernville and working as a community development officer at AmeriServ Financial.

“I would like to see our neighborhoods become more stable,” King said during a recent interview at The Tribune-Democrat. “I’d like to see our neighborhoods become more centered – blight remediation, blight prevention, our playgrounds, making it so the people who are interested in purchasing homes in neighborhoods – that we have programs available to assist persons in helping to purchase a home. … Home ownership changes a neighborhood.”

Johnstown City Council candidate Rev. Sylvia King.

King, a Democrat, considers her role on City Council to be “part of my community service because, as far as I’m concerned, it is community service.”

She is also one of the most prominent leaders in the Black community, working to develop positive relationships with the Johnstown Police Department. She credits the JPD for efforts to search for “diverse populations” when hiring officers.

“In the City of Johnstown, we strive to achieve that equality and to improve the outcomes, and we’re going to do that by focusing on programs and policies and strategies that will create and maintain equality,” King said. “Right now, I feel that relations are at a good place. We have our (Johnstown) Police Advisory Board. They meet regularly to discuss any issues related to policing, and then they bring those issues to us if there are any. Currently, we’re not experiencing any issues.”

King, a first-term council member, has worked on numerous issues over the past three-plus years, including the selling of Johnstown’s sewer system, which brought in $24 million that was used to pay for capital projects, such as putting in new turf at Sargent’s Stadium at the Point, and funding three municipal pension plans at more than 90%.

“Helping to shore up the pension is a blessing, because people worked hard (for their retirement money),” King said.

One of the overarching missions has been to prepare Johnstown to exit Pennsylvania’s Act 47 program for financially distressed municipalities by its April 28, 2023, deadline.

As an Act 47 participant, Johnstown can levy a local services tax of $3 per week. However, upon exiting, council could only set the rate at a maximum of $1. That difference would create an annual $900,000 shortfall that the city has not yet figured out a way to address.

The money is separate from the $30.7 million in American Rescue Plan funds for COVID-19 relief the city will receive.

“I know that we have to get some revenue streams in place to ensure that we can count on X amount of dollars per year or per quarter coming in, so that we can keep our head above water,” King said, “because this (American Rescue Plan) money is a once-in-a-lifetime thing, so we certainly can’t live off of it.”

Dave Sutor is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. He can be reached at (814) 532-5056. Follow him on Twitter @Dave_Sutor.

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