It’s part of the Harrisburg Strong Plan. 

Based on the lease of the City’s parking system, Harrisburg has money to fix itself up.

That’s part of the deal.

At least theoretically, which is primarily what it is at this point in time. Except for the fact that the money is there. Waiting to be used.

City of HBG view from the Hill 2As part of the City’s Recovery Plan, three funds were set up—one for economic development, one for infrastructure, and one for employment legacy costs, such as future medical care for retired union employees.

The retirement fund is fairly straightforward, but it’s the economic development and infrastructure funds that require special considerations. Per the Plan, each fund has about $6,666,000 in it. According to the City of Harrisburg’s Solicitor, Neil Grover, “Those funds are deposited into an account controlled by the [Harrisburg Act 47] coordinator, and once a nonprofit is set up to manage the economic development & infrastructure, that money will be transferred to the control of the nonprofit corporation that is formed to handle oversight of the infrastructure and economic development of the city.”

In order to design the best nonprofit corporation to manage these funds, a Harrisburg Task Force has been set up.

The formation of the Task Force is outlined in the Plan. There are nine members. Publicized on January 31st o this year, they were all appointed by former Receiver William Lynch, and each of the stated stakeholders had a say. That is, two members came from the Mayor’s list of suggestions, two from City Council’s, and two from Dauphin County’s list. The other three were selected directly by the Receiver.

The members are:

Neil Grover, City Solicitor
Jackie Parker, Director of Harrisburg Community and Economic Development
Les Ford, Director of the Heinz Menaker Senior Center
Pat Stringer, Harrisburg community activist
Laura Evans Cullison, Dauphin County Chief Clerk
Douglas Hill, Executive director of the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania
David Black, President & CEO of the Harrisburg Regional Chamber and Capital Region Economic Development Corporation
Karl Singleton, Senior Advisor to the Mayor of Harrisburg
Shannon Williams, Executive Director Capital Region Water

For the past four months, they have been meeting to discuss the use of the funds for the intended purposes—to diversify and stimulate the City’s economic development and to 2) improve and rehabilitate the City’s infrastructure.

Aside from the purposes, the Task Force is also guided by concepts of collaboration with local and regional partners; job creation; and public opportunities for a range of people.

The Recovery Plan lays out a general 501(c)(3) nonprofit model that the Task Force should use to structure its recommendations. The reason for the creation of nonprofit organizations to control the funds is, the Plan states, “Specifically, each organization is intended to lessen the burdens of government, promote commerce, encourage economic development and employment, attract new businesses, combat community deterioration, encourage stabilization and stimulation of new job development and retention of jobs. ” The Plan further stresses that the nonprofits will exist for the sole benefit of the City.”

Much like a trust, the nonprofits will administer funds for projects at its discretion for limited purposes. While the overall goals are economic development and infrastructure, what this terms exactly mean in execution has yet to be determined.

The Plan does not give detailed blueprints of these nonprofits. That’s up to the members of the Task Force. Ultimately, they must present “Governance Proposal and Action Plan.” Once completed, it will be submitted to Harrisburg’s Act 47 Coordinator, Fred Reddig, who will review it and request adjustments if necessary. Once he’s satisfied, it heads to Commonwealth Court for supreme approval.

Before that occurs, the Task Force has elected to come to the public and ask for feedback, thoughts, concerns, and questions about the process.

Although not required by the Plan, the Task Force has scheduled two public meetings:

• Thursday, May 29th 6:00-8:00pm at YWCA of Greater Harrisburg (1100 Market Street)

• Thursday, June 19th 6:00-8:00pm YWCA of Greater Harrisburg (1100 Market Street)

The Task Force specifically intends to discuss its mission and to offer its recommendations so far. Most likely the public will be asked to consider what “economic development” and “infrastructure” means in the City of Harrisburg. Citizens should suggest priorities, partners, and procedures for use of the money, including by residents, businesses, and other nonprofits. These meetings give the public an opportunity to be a part of the process, opportunities to contribute and participate in the City’s recovery and to engage with those charged with the task at hand on behalf of the people of Harrisburg.

Use this section of the Recovery Plan as a guideline to give feedback and ask questions.

Necessary components of the Governance Proposal and Action Plan:

•  the number and composition of an independent board of directors
•  voting procedures for the board of directors
•  eligibility requirements for board membership
•  procedures regarding appointment and removal of board members
•  establishment of standing committees of the board such as an executive committee
•  development of committee charters for audit and finance committees and all other standing committees
•  development of investment policies and procedures as part of the development of the finance committee charter
•  development of audit committee policies and procedures
•  development of public relations strategy and marketing of activities
•  development of internet and social media policies and procedures
•  development of board policies and procedures for making low-interest loans and/or equity investments, and eligibility criteria for applicants
•  development of board policies and procedures for implementation, monitoring, review and revision, in each case as appropriate, of Strong EDC’s  and Strong IIC’s 5-year action plans
•  development of policies and procedures to monitor and review the performance of private contractors and other service providers to Strong EDC and Strong IIC
•  development of grant application and policies and procedures for board use in the review of grant applications and the awarding and making of grants
•  development of grant criteria to be used in requesting grant applications
•  development of effective, IRS-mandated conflict of interest policies and procedures to detect, monitor and resolve conflicts of interest of board members with respect to conducting its activities
•  development of policies and procedures for the retention of counsel, accountants and other advisors and consultants to the board of directors
•  development of job descriptions for the executive officers who would report to the board of directors
•  development of reasonable compensation arrangements for the executive officer job descriptions
•  development of decision criteria for joint venture, co-development and direct investments in projects
•  development of expenditure responsibility policies and procedures for receiving reports and ensuring accountability by recipients of Strong EDC or Strong IIC funds for their use of such funds and resources by grant and loan recipients, borrowers and equity investments
•  development of annual budget criteria and budget variance criteria
•  development of annual reporting mechanisms for the board to report annually on achievement of its annual goals
•  development of governance monitoring metrics and self-evaluation procedures for the board of directors
•  development criteria for distribution of liquidation proceeds when Strong EDC of Strong IIC, as applicable, is dissolved or liquidated
•  development of appropriate accounting controls and management information systems.

Access the The Harrisburg Strong Plan

Further Reading: The Harrisburg Task Force: Draft Documents & A Second Public Meeting
Tara Leo Auchey

Tara Leo Auchey

Creator & editor of today's the day Harrisburg, started in 2009. Resident, engaged citizen, community activist, teacher, strategist, writer.
Tara Leo Auchey