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Harrisburg officials sound off about financial recovery plan

Updated: Tuesday, September 3 2013, 10:05 AM CDT
Written by: Chris Papst

Harrisburg officials are sounding off after the City's Receiver filed a financial recovery plan in Commonwealth Court. 

This recovery plan took three years and is quite complicated.  Basically it does three things; it eliminates the incinerator as a problem for the city, it creates balanced budgets for the next three years, and addresses future debt.   That combination has the approval of city leaders.

"I thank everyone involved for moving mountains. And I thank God for watching over this great, beautiful city and using my leadership to get the job done." Mayor Linda Thompson said.

Thompson patted herself on the back this morning, following the Receiver's announcement of the Harrisburg Strong Plan - a financial agreement between the city, it creditors and the unions.  "I'm humbled to come before you today and say thank you for allowing me to get the job done for the future of your city."

Under the agreement the incinerator will be sold and the parking garages will be leased for 40 years.  Most of the nearly $390 million generated will be used to pay off city debt.  The rest will go to balance the city's budget until 2016 while providing more public safety, infrastructure and economic development.  The plan also addresses future debt, such as unfunded post-employment benefits.  To maintain revenues, the city will still receive $3.3 million a year from the parking garages and the EIT Tax will also remain at 2% through 2016.  Finally, creditors took at least an $87 million loss, but some of that could be earned back over time. 

"We would never have been here if council had not turned down the Act 47 plan. And it took that to get to the point where we are now where we have a smart and innovative solution which I believe has the ability to get us there," said Councilman Brad Koplinski.
"With this plan we are essentially giving the tools to the city leadership. Now it's really going to be up to the city leadership to take those tools and lead Harrisburg into the future," said Cory Angel with the Receiver's Office.

Before the plan can be implemented it has to be approved by a Commonwealth Court Judge.   If it is approved we can expect the parking rates to go up after the lease it signed.  Harrisburg officials sound off about financial recovery plan

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