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With questions about past bills, Harrisburg Council puts proposed lobbying contract on hold

Harrisburg City Council on Tuesday night

Maverick Strategies will need to wait a few more weeks to find out if its lobbying contract with Harrisburg will be renewed.

City Council was expected to vote tonight on a one-year, $60,000 contract with the city-based lobbying shop, but pulled the resolution at the start of the meeting.

At a previous meeting, Council had asked Maverick for detailed billing statements for their prior contract, which ended Dec. 31. That information was just received that afternoon, and council needed time to review the bills, said President Wanda Williams.

“We need clarification on these invoices,” Williams said. “City Council has additional questions they want to ask.”

Williams said that they’ll request that Maverick appear at the next council work session, which is slated for March 5. A final vote on the contract likely will be delayed until the following legislative session on March 12.

Council has already adjusted the proposed contract, limiting it to just one year, retroactive to Jan. 1. It originally was crafted as a multi-year agreement, with automatic renewals unless cancelled with 60 days written notice.

Mayor Eric Papenfuse said that, despite the delay, he didn’t anticipate any problem passing the new contract.

“I believe that council just wants to go over the billing information that was sent,” he said.

He added that he believes that retaining Maverick is vital because Harrisburg needs professional representation before the state legislature.

“We have long-term relationships with the commonwealth that we need to maintain,” he said.

Papenfuse has said that he believes that Maverick played a critical role last year as the legislature passed a bill that allows the city to maintain elevated taxation levels even after it leaves Act 47, which it plans to do this year. The legislation also created a five-member financial oversight board, the Intergovernmental Cooperation Authority, which is due to meet for the first time next Tuesday.

In other action tonight, council approved several appointments:

  • Zachary Monnier to the Harrisburg Planning Commission
  • Gretchen Little to the Harrisburg Human Relations Commission
  • Kevin Burrell to the Harrisburg Human Relations Commission

City Council also agreed to seek funding from Impact Harrisburg, a nonprofit created as part of the city’s financial recovery plan, for a community and economic development position. The city’s former director of community and economic development, Jackie Parker, left last year for a job in the private sector.

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