Papenfuse sworn in as mayor of Harrisburg

Mayor Eric Papenfuse (D) was sworn into office Monday morning during an event at the city’s government center, where he called attention to the building’s state of disrepair.

“Today was a day for rolling up our sleeves and getting to work,” said Papenfuse.

During Monday’s ceremony, new City Council members Shamaine Daniels and Ben Allat were also sworn into office. Wanda Williams and Eugenia Smith began another term on council. New City Controller Charles DeBrunner also took office.

Papenfuse had planned to hold the ceremony at Harrisburg High School, which he said would be scaled down compared to previous years. But, he said after he got a tour of City Hall, he decided even that would have been too much.

He took members of the media on a tour of the police bureau and other administrative offices. Employees pointed to missing ceiling tiles, water damage, wires hanging from the ceiling, boxes and papers piled in closets and on top of desks. In one room, there are no light switches, so the lights remain on all the time.

“Unless you go to the breaker box and literally break a breaker, the lights stay on, which is why the lights are on all the time. It’s why we’re wasting electricity,” said Papenfuse.

Police Chief Thomas Carter said the carpet in the police bureau is at least 35 years old. He pointed out several sections of the bureau that leak during rainstorms. He said evidence even has been damaged at times.

“It slows the work down because when it rains, it comes pouring through the ceilings and morale issues. But, you know through it all, the officers have really hung in there,” said Carter.

Years ago, police stopped using a room meant for victims’ families because of water damage.

Papenfuse said there isn’t enough money in the budget to make repairs. He wants to start a non-profit fund to allow people to donate and begin making the repairs in stages. Papenfuse said he hadn’t received an estimate yet of how much all the repairs will cost.

He said Monday’s swearing-in ceremony saved the city “thousands” of dollars. He said he planned to release additional information in the coming days about the process for donating money.

Former Mayor Linda Thompson was criticized after spending about $35,000 four years ago on renovations to the mayor’s office.

During a brief meeting Monday afternoon, City Council voted to keep Wanda Williams as council president. Council also voted Sandra Reid as vice president.

Papenfuse said he’s also arranged to meet with Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s office to discuss issues with the Harrisburg Authority. Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico turned over the criminal investigation to Kane’s office.

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