The city of Harrisburg will submit its first draft of a five-year financial plan to its oversight panel by tomorrow, Mayor Eric Papenfuse said.
The Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority ― five volunteers appointed by legislative leaders and the governor ― is assigned with helping craft the plan but is limited in what it can tell the city it should and should not do. Authority members, who hired an executive director at their April meeting, are also required to make sure the city follows the plan.
Chairman David Schankweiler said the draft’s May 1 deadline was mutually agreed upon. It’s going to create a baseline for future discussions, he explained.
Throughout the five-year window of planning, the authority’s members and city officials must factor the loss of $12 million of revenue, or 18 percent of the city’s operating budget, based upon the General Assembly-approved temporary taxing power that expires in 2024.
“The city is in a strong position, but we remain dependent on the extra taxing authority, which was extended by the legislature for the next five years,” Papenfuse said.
The capital plan includes a request to fund 12 of the most important projects over the next five years, he continued. It also provides a list of other capital needs by department, based on priorities and funding, he said.
The city’s Director of Finance, Bruce Weber, and independent financial adviser Dan Connolly have worked with Papenfuse on the initial plan, Papenfuse said.
“In addition to the five-year plan, which will be voted on by the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, City Council will need to vote on and approve an inter-governmental cooperation agreement with the ICA sometime before (the legislature’s) summer recess,” he explained. “Once this is approved, the city will exit from Act 47.”
Act 47 is a state-oversight program established to help struggling cities regain their financial footing. The authority is part of that oversight process, which assigns members specific responsibilities such as reviewing city documents and making recommendations to city officials. Joining Schankweiler on the panel are Ralph Vartan, Kathy Speaker MacNett, Tina Nixon and Audry Carter.
The plan has to be handed off to Gov. Tom Wolf and state lawmakers by Aug. 25.
Authority members also hired Jeffrey Stonehill, Chambersburg borough manager, as its executive director at their April meeting. He will work part time and earn $50,000.
In addition, authority members appointed Jeffrey Engle of Harrisburg-based Shaffer & Engle as their legal counsel, as well as Dave Robertson, owner of Harrisburg-based Factory 44, as their website developer.
Stonehill, who has worked for Chambersburg for nine years, said he’s going to work for both the borough and the authority at the same time.