HARRISBURG, Pa. - Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse announces a hiring freeze for all city employees. This comes as he declares a state of fiscal crisis in the city. Papenfuse says the city is facing a looming financial crisis because the state budget passed Friday does not include a provision to allow the city to leave Act 47 while keeping its taxing authority. Under Act 47 Harrisburg has additional taxing authority that generates an extra $12 million a year.
"That is what has allowed us on the last five years to have balanced budgets," said Papenfuse. "And to build up a nest egg."
This is the fifth and final year Harrisburg can use their taxing authority under Act 47, unless granted a three year extension. To prepare to potentially lose the $12 million in additional taxing authority, Papenfuse has announced a freeze on hiring all city employees, including police, through the end of the year. But, as Papenfuse declares a fiscal crisis, not everyone agrees the city's future is grim.
“I would say it’s sounding the alarm rather than coming back to the table to work with legislature," said Harrisburg city councilman Ben Allatt, "So it’s not the approach I would take. I’d like to ensure the residents that we’re not, it’s not all gloom and doom right now. We’ve worked hard to get where we are today, we have more work to do, and we’ll get there.”
Papenfuse says over the next few months he will work to craft a solution that will protect public safety and taxpayers.
“But we have to acknowledge the realities of the situation," said Papenfuse. "And how without legislative action the city of Harrisburg will suffer dire consequences.”