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Harrisburg city council votes to sell incinerator

Updated: Monday, September 16 2013, 10:26 PM CDT
Reported by: James Tully

HARRISBURG -- Harrisburg City Council voted Monday night in favor of selling its incinerator to the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority. This was a key component in council's "Strong Plan" which was outlined last week to work towards repaying the nearly $362 million owed to creditors linked to the incinerator.

The sale is expected to generate upwards of $130 million, but will leave the city paying very high deposit costs for the next 20 years as part of the deal.

Council members passed the terms of the sale 6-1, with Councilwoman Sandra Reid voting no, with most members agreeing it wasn't a perfect plan but would provide a fresh start to a city that badly needs it.

It also appeared that financial advisors hired by the city were able to convince council that any steps towards decreasing debt and avoiding bankruptcy was a move in the right direction.  

City Controller Dan Miller voiced concerns against the sale saying this in a prepared statement:

"In my view, with the sale and transfer of municipally owned, the burden is placed disproportionately on the residents and taxpayers of the city. While it's true that the city's major creditors have agreed to accept an immediate partial payment of approximately $210 million of the nearly $300 million debt, the plan calls for additional distribution of future funds that will make the creditors whole," Miller said.

Former Director of Public Works Ernie Hoch also opposed the deal. Hoch says with the deal going through that Harrisburg will now have the highest disposal rates in the country for the next 20 years.

Also approved Monday evening as part of the "Harrisburg Strong Plan," an increase in parking meter rates and an earned income tax increase from one percent to two percent for residents.Harrisburg city council votes to sell incinerator

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