2014 Budget Passed
Harrisburg residents will see no tax hike in 2014 as part of a $77.8 million budget that unanimously passed City Council last month.
The 2014 budget process was remarkably smooth following several years of annual conflict between the council and administration over spending priorities, allocations and tax increases.
Council held just a single, 90-minute budget hearing then approved the spending plan with little additional comment.
A direct comparison to last year’s budget is difficult due to the provisions of the Harrisburg Strong plan, which included the sale of the incinerator, the lease of the parking system and the transfer of the water/sewer system.
That said: expenditures from the city’s general fund, which covers most day-to-day operations, will increase about 1.7 percent, from $56.2 million in 2013 to $57.2 million this year.
City Council expects to reopen the budget this month to better reflect the priorities of newly elected Mayor Eric Papenfuse. However, major changes are not expected, as the anticipated amount of revenue will not change, and the current budget already has the blessing of the receiver’s office.
Water/Sewer Rates Going Up
Harrisburg water and sewer customers will see a 27 percent rate hike this year for their service under a budget passed by The Harrisburg Authority.
The rate increase was necessary to pay for long-delayed system improvements, said Executive Director Shannon Williams.
“For too long, necessary investments in Harrisburg’s water infrastructure have been deferred to future generations,” she said. “That ends with the adoption of this budget. It will allow us to deliver service and reliability that our customers deserve and that will sustain the city into the future.”
An average customer who uses 5,000 gallons of water per month will pay about $825 per year, an increase of about $175.
Initially, the Authority had projected a 47 percent rise in rates for 2014. However, that amount was reduced after the board of directors and staff developed strategies to control costs, said Chairman Bill Cluck.
Sanitation Outsourcing on Hold
City Council last month put the brakes on privatizing trash pickup, as it refused to approve an administration-brokered deal with Republic Services.
Councilwoman Sandra Reid said the city would issue a new request for proposals early this year, which would delay the plan to hire an outside waste hauler well into 2014.
Council balked at the Thompson administration’s selection of Republic Services, the nation’s second-largest trash hauler. Council members claimed they were shut out of the selection process and objected to certain requirements of the proposed agreement, including that sanitation workers would have to pick up their equipment each day in York.
Receiver William Lynch has recommended privatizing sanitation services to save the city money. The contract with Republic would have saved Harrisburg about $1.1 million per year, according to a memo to City Council from Chief Operating Officer Robert Philbin.
Separately, the Department of Public Works is relocating its headquarters and operations to the 1600-block of N. Cameron Street, said Director Kevin Hagerich. The move is due to be completed by March 1.
For many years, the department occupied space on the property of the Harrisburg Authority. That land, though, is no longer available due to the sale last month of the incinerator to the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority.
Projects Get Go-Ahead
Harrisburg City Council gave the green light to numerous development plans last month, allowing construction to begin for several critical projects.
Council unanimously approved land use plans for the following:
- The conversion of the Stokes Millworks building, 340 Verbeke St. in Midtown, to a farm-to-table restaurant and art studio/gallery by Historic Holdings LLC.
- The conversion of the First Church of God, 15 N. 4th St. downtown, into a new theater and home for Gamut Theatre Group.
- The construction of four new apartment buildings with 171 units at Brookwood and Melrose streets on South Allison Hill by Brookwood Commons LP.
- The demolition of small, vacant apartment buildings and their replacement with five townhouses at 222-224 Hummel St. on South Allison Hill by Brethren Housing Association.
- A 33,000-square-foot expansion of an industrial warehouse at 4000 Industrial Rd., including two parking lots and on-site stormwater infrastructure improvements, by the Sygma Network.
These projects come on the heels of several other recent development initiatives, including the planned completion of the abandoned, half-finished Capitol View Commerce Center on N. Cameron Street by Moran Industries.
No Tax Increase from County
For the ninth straight year, Dauphin County will not raise its property tax, as county commissioners last month passed the 2014 budget.
The county tax will remain at 6.87 mils, in addition to a .35-mil library tax.
For 2014, overall spending is actually expected to fall, as the $230.6 million budget clocks in at about 5.5 percent less than the 2013 budget. The decrease is largely due to the Harrisburg Strong recovery plan, which freed the county from most of its obligation from incinerator bond guarantees.
Swearing In Slated
Harrisburg will ring in new leadership on Jan. 6 with the swearing in of several key municipal officials.
New Mayor Eric Papenfuse will be sworn into office in a ceremony that will begin at 10 a.m. in the lobby of City Hall. In addition, City Controller Charles DeBrunner will take the oath of office, as will newly elected council members Shamaine Daniels and Ben Allatt and incumbent council members Wanda Williams and Eugenia Smith.
After the swearing in, the new administration will begin to move into its offices. City Council will hold its reorganization meeting in council chambers at 3 p.m.
Barkley Ln., 2509: T. Huynh & L. Lee to C. & S. Moore, $74,900
Boas St., 406: C. DeLorenzo to A. Heisey, $90,000
Brookwood St., 2610: D. Krekstein to Scottsdale Commercial Partners LP, $170,000
Croyden Rd., 2986: PA Deals LLC to N. Peterson, $79,000
Green St., 1608: PA Deals LLC to G. & J. Modi, $137,000
Green St., 1816: J. Tran to G. Brown, $92,945
Green St., 1911: T. & S. Cohen to G.E. Morris III, $159,000
Kensington St., 2252: S. Myers to C. Dell, $52,900
Locust St., 130: D. Bohn et al to WCI Partners LP, $300,000
Market St., 1501 & 1507: Martin Luther King Baptist Church to Eastern PA District Christian & Missionary Alliance, $130,242
N. 2nd St., 1303: U.S. Marshall Service to PA Deals LLC, $30,000
N. 2nd St., 2447: E. & S. Lupyak to M. DePhillip, $57,500
N. 3rd St., 1421: Third Street Development LP & Powers & Assoc. LLC to E. & C. Papenfuse, $60,000.
N. 3rd St., 1912: PA Deals LLC to N. Peterson, $76,000
N. 16th St., 1106: Community First Fund to R.J. Murphy III, $31,500
N. Front St., 111: Front & Locust LLC to J.A. Hartzler, $200,000
N. Front St., 1525, Unit 312: P. Lafferty to R. & C. Chaudhuri, $160,000
N. Front St., 2509: A.L. Schein MD to Pennsylvania Builders Assoc., $575,000
Reily St., 219: J. Williams to PA Deals LLC, $44,450
Rumson Dr., 369: PA Deals LLC to J. Gaidos, $80,700
S. 14th St., 404: D. Boyle to J. Lopez, $30,000
November 2013 property sales for Harrisburg, greater than $30,000. Source: Dauphin County. Data is assumed to be accurate.