A measure that places a Receiver in charge of Harrisburg’s finances is expected to be approved by the Senate on October 17, despite the recent move by City Council to file for bankruptcy.
“From our point of view nothing has changed,” said State Rep. Glen Grell, R-Cumberland, who worked on the Receiver legislation with State Senator Jeff Piccola, R-Dauphin. “The bankruptcy move is specifically forbidden under legislation we passed in June. I don’t think there’s any doubt it will be challenged and pretty quickly dismissed.”
Governor Corbett and Harrisburg Mayor Linda Thompson likewise stated they believe the move by City Council was illegal. The mayor had no say in the bankruptcy move since City Council approved it as a resolution.
The city is $310 million in debt through its investment in a municipal incinerator project and is at risk of defaulting on its payments.
Earlier, the House gutted the Receiver measure, SB 1151, and added language agreed-to by Grell and Piccola. On October 17 the Senate is expected to agree to the House changes, sending the bill to the governor.
“The original bill turned the finances over to a three-person panel,” Grell said. “We saw two problems with that. It takes longer for three people to agree on a course of action than one person, and we thought we might run into some constitutional issues with taking power from elected officials and giving that power to an appointed commission.”
Under the bill, Governor Corbett will petition Commonwealth Court to appoint a Receiver for the city in the event city council fails within a month of the declaration to adopt a plan to bring the city on the path to recovery. Once appointed, the Receiver will have the ability to create a final long-term recovery plan for the city and will have the ability to implement the plan as needed.