William Alden wrote in huffpo 15 June 2011, Harrisburg’s ‘Bad Deal’: City Forced To Pursue Parking System Lease Despite Fears:
The finances of Harrisburg, Pa., are so desperate that local officials are considering a deal they fear will ultimately make the city more miserable.
A state-appointed panel, charged with crafting a financial recovery plan for the city, announced this week that Harrisburg must pursue the sale of public assets to help resolve its fiscal crisis. The nearly-bankrupt state capital, weighed down by debt more than four times the size of its budget, “is not in control of its own destiny,” the state team said in a report.
Three years ago, confronted with a similar budget shortfall, the city considered leasing parking garages and meters in exchange for quick infusion of cash, but that deal was never approved. Last month, the offer resurfaced when New York-based developer LambdaStar expressed renewed interest. Some city leaders harbor a growing fear that Harrisburg will be forced into a deal that will bleed its coffers over the course of decades, after it surrenders valuable assets to a profit-driven company with the power to raise rates on a captive base of customers.
But those misgivings may not matter, as a budget crisis chokes Harrisburg into submission.
“This is a situation where Wall Street will get paid, and the little guys on Main Street, taxpayers, are going to get stuck holding the bag,” Harrisburg City Council Member Brad Koplinski said.
Couldn’t happen here, right? Our local governments would never hastily approve bonds that could force raising taxes or default, would they? Oh, right: they already did.