State officials filed an application in Commonwealth Court Thursday to end the receivership in Harrisburg by March 1.
You can read the filing by clicking here.
The filing states, “While the City of Harrisburg still faces many challenges, most notably the continues implementation of various incremental components of the Strong Plan, designed to foster economic development and private investment in the City, thereby increase its tax base, the conditions precedent to a fiscal emergency…no longer exist.”
Under the state’s plan, which would have to be approved by a judge, receiver Maj. Gen. William Lynch would continue to work over the next several weeks to help with the transition. In March, Fred Reddig would assume the role of a coordinator. Reddig has worked with the city for years on its financial recovery.
Steve Kratz, a spokesman for the Pa. Department of Community and Economic Development, said the team that helped craft the Harrisburg Strong Plan would essentially remain to continue working with the city.
The city still would fall under Act 47 and be considered distressed.
“The major transactions were a major milestone. And, I think no one would argue that they’re not in a tremendously better position today than they were just a year ago,” said Kratz, referring deals which closed last month on the incinerator and parking assets. They were key to managing hundreds of millions of dollars in public debt, he said.
City Council Vice President Sandra Reid said while she opposed the state takeover, she’s been pleased with how Gen. Lynch has managed the crisis.
“For a city that’s really been struggling for the last four to six years, in fiscal debt, fiscal recovery, it’s an amazing time for the City of Harrisburg,” said Reid.
Once the city exits receivership, Reid said elected leaders will regain more control over day-to-day budgetary matters. While Reddig will work to implement remaining aspects of the Strong Plan, Reid said the change will allow city leaders to make decisions that previously had to be approved by the receiver.
Reid said, “We don’t have to go to the receiver and say, ‘hey, by the way, do you think we can spend this money? Do you think we can hire that person?’” Reid recalled an effort last year to increase the salary for a health inspector, which she said Lynch did not support.
No date has been set for a hearing in Commonwealth Court.
If the judge approves the plan, Kratz said Gov. Tom Corbett would then lift the fiscal emergency declaration.