Report: Deal near to resolve Harrisburg's financial woes
By The Associated Press
Published: Saturday, April 27, 2013, 5:48 p.m.
HARRISBURG — A newspaper says a deal appears to be emerging to resolve the multimillion-dollar debt crisis of Pennsylvania's capital stemming from a city-owned municipal trash incinerator without the city having to declaring bankruptcy.
The Patriot-News said a series of interviews with a state-appointed receiver and other officials in Harrisburg indicates that the framework would involve selling the incinerator to the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority. It would also mean entering a 40-year-plus public-private partnership with Standard Parking, which runs Harrisburg International Airport garages, to lease city lots and garages.
The plan would also entail convincing many stakeholders to agree to walk away from some of the money they contend they are owed. And Harrisburg would have to deal with aging and crumbling infrastructure, provide economic development funds and set up a trust fund for an underfunded program that provides benefits for city workers after retirement. But the paper says the money would not ease the pressure for the city to continue to live within its means.
State-appointed receiver William Lynch, his financial adviser Steven Goldfield and Mayor Linda Thompson told the paper that nothing is final, but they believe they are close to a “handshake deal” that could lead to court review and approval.
“Our initiative is to create conditions that allow city government to be successful,” Lynch said. “And we believe this proposed solution is as good as it's ever going to be. I sometimes shake my head (thinking), ‘How could you possibly consider the alternative to this?' which is bankruptcy — which we don't think is good for anybody.”
To deal with structural debt issues apart from the incinerator, Thompson cites a 20 percent cut in the workforce and expenses reduced by 10 percent. The city has also started selling off some public works equipment in preparation for privatizing waste collection and is looking at its vehicle fleet. Officials also increased the earned income tax for residents from 1 percent to 2 percent.
In addition, Harrisburg officials are still seeking $4 million in annual union concessions, and Goldfield said environmental regulators will need to compromise on potential fines based on past practices and surrounding towns would have to agree to regionalize some services and infrastructure.
The city of about 50,000, devastated by the loss of its heavy manufacturing core, has been struggling with millions of dollars of debt from the incinerator, with the total debt most recently estimated at $370 million.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Worker for Latrobe-based Xcoal on ill-fated flight
- Gas tax could factor into Pennsylvania gubernatorial race
- Contract arranged Pennsylvania Game Commission director’s early exit
- Supreme Court ruling to affect few bicycle trails in Pennsylvania
- Pennsylvania drug program portrayed as a life-saving tool
- CSX makes deal with state on shipments of hazardous materials
- PennDOT to pay team of companies for bridge repairs under single contract
- Military veteran ID cards granted on honor system
- Coroner: Pa. trooper’s pregnant wife died of gunshot
- Retired Pa. Game Commission chief to get $220K severance payment
- Trucker cited for slow speed in fatal crash on I-80