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Harrisburg council to vote on parking rates, police residency at meeting tonight

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If approved by city council this evening, neighbors in Harrisburg will have to adjust to some major changes — but they are changes city leaders say will help erase millions of dollars in debt.

For starters, the price you pay to park in the city may increase. Hourly rates for downtown meters would rise from $1.50 to $3. Tickets would increase from the baseline $14 to $30. The late penalty of $11 would nearly double to $20. The rates would also go up on City Island, doubling from $5 to $10.

City leaders say the state has also agreed to rent 4,600 spaces at $140 each per month. That equals $7.7 million every year in guaranteed revenue from the commonwealth.

In addition to rate changes, the county is also guaranteeing $24 million of bonds being issued by the Lancaster Solid Waste Management Authority to buy the incinerator, which is contributing to the city’s $362 million debt.

The city’s residency requirement is also under debate. It requires Harrisburg police to live in the city limits. Former mayor Reed enacted the requirement in the 1990’s.

Removing the requirement would be a part of the “Harrisburg Strong” plan. The city’s receiver’s debt plan has it being eliminated to allow for people who live outside of Harrisburg to work for the police department.

“I don’t think it’s necessary” for the police to have to live in the city, says city council member Brad Koplinski. “I don’t think there’s any difference in dedication of police officers and firefighters that live in the city or 5 or 10 miles outside. I don’t feel any less safe.”

The residency stipulation doesn’t apply to just uniformed employees. A spokesperson for the city council says there are 60 open management positions right now that the city is having trouble filling because of the requirement.

But council president Wanda Williams told PennLive that officers living and working in the city have more passion for their work and a better knowledge of the city.