The state body tasked with overseeing a long-term financial plan for Harrisburg has lost of one its members, who left citing a dysfunctional relationship with the city.
Tina Nixon has resigned from the seven-member Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority (ICA), according to a release from ICA Manager Jeffrey Stonehill.
“All committee members came to the authority without a political agenda and with a strong desire to help and wanting the best for our beloved City of Harrisburg,” Nixon said, in a statement. “However, we have not been able to move the needle in any direction as it relates to forging an agreement with the city.”
In 2018, the state legislature created the ICA, which allowed the city to retain extra taxing authority for five years pending a long-term financial arrangement with the city. Last year, the ICA and the city agreed to a five-year financial plan, but an annual update to the plan has been delayed twice, first due to city manpower issues and the second time because of the coronavirus pandemic.
In addition, the ICA and the city have been unable to agree on an Intergovernmental Cooperation Agreement, which would set the terms of the city’s relationship with the ICA and allow the city to exit the state’s Act 47 program for financially distressed municipalities.
The ICA and the city have disagreed on other issues, including the scope of the ICA’s mandate and whether the city’s non-voting member, finance director Bruce Weber, should be allowed to attend all ICA meetings.
In addition, in May, ICA vice chairman Ralph Vartan wrote a letter to PennLive calling for Weber to be dismissed or step down due to accounting issues raised by an independent auditor last year, particularly after the city wrote off sanitation and disposal accounts as uncollectible.
The ICA has also complained that the city still depends too much on the extra taxing authority that the state granted the city for five years. In its annual report to the legislature, (Intergovernmental-Cooperation-Authority-for-Harrisburg-Section-203-Annual-Report-043020c (2),) filed on April 30, the ICA said that the city had made little progress eliminating its reliance on those taxes, which, it said, still provides some 18 percent of the city’s operating revenue.
This is the second resignation from the board over the past year. Last year, former Chairman David Schankweiler also resigned.
State government leaders appoint the five voting members of the ICA. Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa appointed Nixon and presumably will be responsible for naming her replacement.
“I am not surprised, but am disheartened, that her primary reason for wanting to terminate her relationship is frustration with the unwillingness of the city leadership to work in partnership with the ICA to address some serious financial issues,” said board Chair Audry Carter in a statement.