The “Harrisburg Strong” plan is another step closer to reality. A Commonwealth Court judge said Thursday she will confirm the Harrisburg receiver’s Act 47 plan to get the city of of debt.
It was a victory in court for Harrisburg Receiver General William Lynch, and many say for the city of Harrisburg.
After a two-hour hearing, Judge Bonnie Leadbetter gave her seal of approval to Lynch’s modified Act 47 plan to free the city of about $625 million in debt. Lynch presented the revised plan on August 26. Judge Leadbetter said she would issue an order in a day or two confirming her decision, calling Lynch’s plan “the best chance this city has seen in a long time to get its fiscal house in order.
“This is a very talented group of people that managed to pull this off,” Lynch said after the hearing. “And by that, I don’t just mean the lawyers you saw today, the members of city council, Mayor Thompson, and numerous others.”
A few blocks away at Harrisburg’s government center, Mayor Linda Thompson applauded the judge’s decision.
“I feel that she confirmed all that we set out to do and she validated just what we said we wanted to do in the beginning and that is to keep this city on track with the Act 47 plan and not bankruptcy,” Thompson said.
City Controller Dan Miller is one person who isn’t cheering. He said the projected revenues in the receiver’s plan are off and that it doesn’t factor in some future liabilities.
“We have to get real concessions,” Miller said. “I have a problem with what has happened. I believe the debt really is still on our books. They’ve moved things around, the creditors have won. But the debt really still is there.”
With the judge’s confirmation, the next step is getting the plan finalized and implemented, which Lynch hopes will happen before the end of the year.
“It’s not really an end, it’s a beginning,” Lynch said. “And this is a necessary part of the process, but it’s not over by any stretch of the imagination.”
There is a 30-day appeals window, but the judge said any appeals at this point would likely be unsuccessful.