A recap of Harrisburg City Council Legislative Session: Tuesday, February 25th. Votes in red.
The Harrisburg Authority’s name change. In November, The Harrisburg Authority (THA) passed a resolution to change its name to Capital Region Water. The motivation for the change was THA’s acquisition of the city’s sewer and water system along with the sale of the incinerator.
“A new beginning for an old system,” is THA’s new tagline.
Not only is the city’s water system old, but so is the authority that has owned and managed it. Before the vote, President Wanda Williams gave a brief history of the authority and all of its name changes since the 1930s. The name “Harrisburg Authority” was put in place in 1990 when it moved from the water business to the incinerator business.
Now that the incinerator is gone, the name Capital Region Water better reflects the authority’s mission. Finalization of the new name comes from the State.
•7-0 passed Bill 3-2014 - An Ordinance of the Council of the City of Harrisburg adopting and approving an amendment to the Articles of Incorporation of the Harrisburg Authority, as proposed by Resolution of the Board of said Authority; setting forth the proposed amendment; authorizing said Authority and proper officers thereof to execute, verify and file appropriate Articles of Amendment; and repealing all ordinances or parts of ordinances inconsistent therewith.
Papenfuse’s managerial appointments get confirmed and new members join city committees.
There was only contention around one appointment and that was City Solicitor.
First Sandra Reid declared she had second thoughts about Neil Grover’s capability to hand City Council documents in a timely fashion, both from the administration and opinions she has asked him to write on questions she has about legislation. “I’m not sure I’m going to be able to vote yes.”
Colleague Brad Koplinski said no solicitor has been able to conquer that problem of government, and said Grover was the best for the job.
Shamaine Daniels had a more complex reason for her doubt about Grover. She herself an attorney, she questioned the ethics of his appointment pointing to a mix of attorney duty and politics. “It could be a conflict of interest,” she said because of the work Grover did as attorney for Debt Watch Harrisburg, City Council, and the City in Act 47 matters. Daniels said she requested but did not receive the State Ethics certification she asked for, thus, she had no choice but to vote no.
None of her colleagues joined her in her concern, and in fact the majority of them defended Grover’s ability, principles, and dedication in his work regarding the city’s debt crisis over the past six years. “Many times for little or no money,” Susan Brown Wilson said.
In the end, Daniels was the only one to vote no.
The rest of the appointments were voted unanimously with Reid and Smith giving long-time city employee Aaron Johnson great praise for his appointment to Director of Public Works.
•7-0 passed Resolution 3-2014 – A Resolution confirming the appointment of Mr. Aaron Johnson to serve as Director of the Department of Public Works for the City of Harrisburg.
•7-0 passed Resolution 7-2014 - A Resolution appointing Mr. David L. Butcher to serve on the Coordinating Committee and the Technical Committee of the Harrisburg Area Transportation Study (HATS).
•6-1 passed (Shamaine Daniels) Resolution 8-2014 - A Resolution confirming the appointment of Mr. Neil A. Grover to serve as Solicitor for the City of Harrisburg.
•7-0 passed Resolution 11-2014 – A Resolution appointing Mr. Alex Reber to serve on the City of Harrisburg Audit Committee.
•7-0 passed Resolution 17-2014 - A Resolution confirming the appointment of Jackie Z. Parker as the Director of Department of Community and Economic Development for the City of Harrisburg.
•7-0 passed Resolution 21-2014 – A Resolution appointing Mr. Vincent J. Fogarty, Jr. to serve on the City of Harrisburg Audit Committee.
To TRAN or not to TRAN? The City of Harrisburg TRAN’d.
This has been an ongoing public conversation in City Council Chambers while everyone was trying to figure out if it was necessary or acceptable to get this line of credit until the City’s tax revenues come in at the end of March.
On March 15th, a general obligation bond payment is due to Ambac, and a series of beginning of the year one time payments to vendors has made for depleted city coffers.
The main question became would the line of credit be needed?
There was no solid answer because no one actually knows. Everyone agrees it will be tight, but the predictions have fluctuated.
It has been the Office of the Receiver’s position that the City should do it, take the insurance, because for one, it can.
For the first time in years, the City of Harrisburg is able to enter the market again. “The TRAN will be a step in restoring your fiscal credibility,” said PA DCED’s Fred Reddig.
Secondly, the State is recommending the City do the TRAN to quell the concern of the bondholder. Ambac has not been paid in two years and is a creditor outside of the “incinerator debt.”
City Council President wanted to table this vote, but after presentations by the State and the Office of the Treasurer, Councilor Ben Allatt made a motion to put it up for vote. It was seconded and the vote called.
•6-1 passed (Shamaine Daniels no vote) Resolution 6-2014 - A Resolution authorizing the issuance of a Tax and Revenue Anticipation Note in the amount not to exceed the sum of four million dollars ($4,000,000.00).
Upgrades for the City.
•7-0 passed Resolution 12-2014 - A Resolution approving the “Authorized User Agreement” with Verizon Wireless to provide the City of Harrisburg with wireless services and products.
•sent to committee Resolution 19-2014 – A Resolution requesting the Harrisburg Planning Commission initiate preparation of a Comprehensive Plan for the City of Harrisburg.
•7-0 passed Resolution 20-2014 – A Resolution approving and authorizing a Grant Agreement between the City of Harrisburg (hereinafter “City”) and Dauphin County which enables the City to receive funds made available under the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development and Gaming Act (“Gaming Act”) to be utilized by the Bureau of Police.
Tabled until Special Legislative Meeting, March 5th at 5:30pm.
These items were tabled so City Council had more time to receive and review information on these transactions. Resolution 18 is necessary to move the City’s Public Works facility from space at the Resource Recovery Facility (incinerator). If Public Works is moved by the end of March, LCSWMA gives the City $150,000,
•tabled Resolution 9-2014 - A Resolution approving and authorizing a Community and Economic Development Grant Agreement between the Capital Region Economic Development Corporation and the City of Harrisburg to provide funding to secure the services of a qualified and experienced Director to identify, form and implement key community and economic development initiatives over three (3) calendars years.
•tabled Resolution 18-2014 – A Resolution approving a Lease Agreement between the City of Harrisburg, as tenant, and MEB Partners, L.P., as landlord, for the use of property located at 1812-1820 Paxton Street, Harrisburg, as a public works facility.
At the end of the meeting, the Solicitor announced that the Commonwealth Court had issued an order terminating the City of Harrisburg’s Receivership effective March 1st. A Coordinator succeeds the Receiver in duties pertaining to the implementation of the Recovery Plan. Fred Reddig is named Coordinator. See: PA Commonwealth Court Issues Order to Terminate Harrisburg’s Receivership