Harrisburg Mayor talks crime, financial issues during address

Harrisburg Mayor Linda Thompson, who’s gearing up for a re-election fight this primary season, said Monday the cash-strapped capital city should be free of debt from the incinerator by the beginning of next year.

Speaking to the Rotary Club of Harrisburg, she detailed what she viewed to be the key accomplishments of her administration in 2012 and the challenges facing the city in 2013.

She also addressed a recent report by Neighborhoodscout.com which listed the Capital City as the 30th most dangerous city in the country. The city ranked number 20 in last year’s report.

“We’re now at 30, and it’s been reported that obviously we’ve done a great job at reducing our violent crime. And, we’ve reported out that we’ve reduced our violent crime, and that survey obviously supports it,” said Thompson.

To see this year’s report, click here.

The report looked at major crime statistics from 2011, the most recent year in which complete data were available. The report ranks cities with 25,000 people or more and looks at incidents of homicide, armed robbery, forcible rape and aggravated assault.

Among the Pennsylvania cities on the list: York (18), Chester (19), Harrisburg (30), Philadelphia (50), Norristown (68).

Though cities such as Philadelphia have many more murders and other major crimes than cities the size of York and Harrisburg, the report’s authors looked at the rate of crime per 1,000 people.

While Philadelphia had 324 murders in 2011, York had 16 murders the same year. However, when that information is calculated on a per-capita basis, Philadelphia had a murder rate of .21 per 1,000 people. Meanwhile, York had a murder rate of .36 per 1,000 people. Harrisburg had a lower per-capita murder rate than Philadelphia but higher rates of rape and robbery.

Mayor Thompson pointed out major crimes continued to fall in 2012, and that the city planned to hire an additional eight police officers this quarter.

She also addressed the overarching issue of paying for solutions to some of the city’s issues.

She pointed out the city aimed to have the incinerator and parking assets sold by the fall.

“There’s going to be some stranded debt left over, and that’s where all the other people come into play, our creditors and also the county and the state and all the other stakeholders, the unions,” said Thompson. “We’re working very hard to make sure the city’s made whole, and there will be no more burden on the taxpayers going forward.”