Debt Watch Harrisburg Meeting w/Act 47 Team Representative, Bob O’Donnell

Five (5) of our members sat down for about 1 1/2 hours with Mr. O’Donnell on the evening of April 6. That happened to be the same date the Cravath report to City Council was made public, so we had not reviewed it in any detail at the time of the meeting.

Mr. O’Donnell advised that the Act 47 Team was looking at any and all options in addressing the Debt Crisis. All present appeared to agree that we have two (2) distinct problems that are now facing Harrisburg, which are now entwined — the incinerator debt and the structural debts of the City government. Much of what he communicated was reiterated last week at his update to City Council. I encourage everyone to watch the replay.

The Act 47 Team seemed to be looking for a global solution to the problems that did not simply push off addressing the problems to some future date. He did not indicate that they had arrived upon recommendations yet, but did demonstrate they were looking to identify the real numbers associated with any aspect of a proposed solution. No one item suggested by any party was seen as offering the complete solution being sought.

The meeting was cordial and sobering. The sale of assets — pro and con — were discussed. Tax increases — pro and con — were discussed. The reduction of service — pro and con — were considered. The prospects of regionalization of some services, the role and powers of municipal authorities, Chapter 9 — pro and con — were all reviewed. Changes in State law was raised. The role of the Act 47 team in negotiations was touched upon.

In sum, at the time of that meeting on April 6, everything was still on the Act 47 Team table and, as was represented to our group, all ideas of significant financial impact were being considered, fiscally evaluated and decided on its merits.

Any solution will be hard and ugly, as the problems we face are hard and ugly. In the near, near future, the reality of the crisis will be setting in for most everyone. We are 25 days and counting to the Proposed Act 47 Plan.

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