HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Once on the brink of bankruptcy, Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse says the city is well prepared to handle the current economic impact of COVID-19.
“We resolved to build up a strong cash reserve and we have million of dollars in reserve now that we didn’t have at that time,” Papenfuse said. “We are also current with all of our bills and invoices.”
He says big revenue is collected at the beginning of the year, including discounted pre-payment of property taxes. Even so, the city has had to make tough decisions including furloughing 11 employees and entering a hiring freeze.
“When the crisis started we had a pretty large fund balance and we have reserves that we can draw upon,” Papenfuse said. “And we’re not as concerned about making it through this year, but the impact as we move forward is very uncertain.”
One substantial loss of funding comes from the city getting regular payment from the parking system. It receives $100,000 or more a month. However, nothing is coming in until the health emergency is over because the city isn’t enforcing parking.
Looking past the current landscape, the city has established a grant program to help small businesses.
“We believe small businesses are the backbone of the city’s economy and we don’t want them to go under before we can get back to work,” Papenfuse said.
The city is using $1 million from a defunct fund from years ago meant for economic development.
“We’ve taken some resources and said you can apply this to rent to keep going, you can apply it to utilities to keep going, you can apply it for payroll if you need that to keep going,” Papenfuse said.
Papenfuse estimates there are 1,700 to 1,800 small businesses in the city and says they’ve already received 400 applications
There is a limit of $10,000 for each grant. If you’d like to apply for one, click here.