Harrisburg looks likely to receive its full state funding after all, as the legislature has re-inserted a $5 million payment to the city in its final budget agreement.
A vote is expected today on a $32 billion state budget for 2017-18 that includes full funding of the “Capitol fire protection” line item, a type of payment in lieu of taxes that the city counts on to help fund emergency services.
“This is great news for Harrisburg,” said Mayor Eric Papenfuse. “And I’d like to thank (Rep.) Patty Kim and (Sen.) John DiSanto for working hard on behalf of the city.”
Over the decades, this annual payment has ranged widely from nothing to the current $5 million, an amount decided upon while the city was under state receivership. However, the money is not guaranteed, meaning that Harrisburg isn’t certain it will receive the funds until the always-fraught state budget is passed.
The money lands in the city’s general fund, but Harrisburg officials say it offers compensation for services that the city provides to about 30,000 state workers, in addition to many others who come to Harrisburg to do business with the state. The state pays no property taxes on its massive holdings in the city, which includes some 50 state-owned buildings on about 42 percent of the city’s land.
The payment was included in the proposed budget released in February by Gov. Tom Wolf. However, the Republican-controlled Senate later stripped it from its budget proposal, with some legislators criticizing the city for tripling the local services tax, which affects everyone who works in Harrisburg. At the time, Kim and DiSanto both said they’d fight to have the money restored.
Once passed by the legislature, Wolf is expected to sign the budget into law.
Author: Lawrance Binda