Several suburban Harrisburg municipalities have asked Commonwealth Court to block the continued use of sewer fund surpluses to support the city’s day-to-day operations.
They also say they want a refund for what they allege is their share of more than $34 million that they contend has been improperly transferred since 2006.
The municipalities in question made their demands today in the form of an objection to state-appointed receiver David Unkovic’s recovery plan for debt- and deficit-ridden Harrisburg.
Unkovic’s plan, in part, calls for continuing but gradually reducing the sewer fund transfers, which have ranged from $5.2 million to $10.1 million between 2006 and 2010. Unkovic’s plan, starting next year, would cut the nearly $8 million sewer fund transfer for 2012 by 5 percent per year.
Unkovic, reached Monday, said he was aware of the suburban neighbors’ objections, and “there are concerns with these transfers. … It is a significant development, and it is not a good one,” he said.
The receiver did not say how he would close what could become a fresh, multimillion dollar hole in the city’s operating fund. He noted he is still completing his own assessment of the issue, including trying to ascertain what the city can appropriately claim from the sewer fund for handling billing and other administrative functions.
“By Thursday, I may be able to testify in more detail on that,” Unkovic said, referring to a scheduled court hearing on the recovery plan.
As part of the 2011 statute creating the receivership option for financially distressed municipalities that cannot agree on their own recovery plan, the receiver’s plan must get court approval.
Unkovic introduced his initial plan Feb. 6. in addition to the fund transfers, it calls for the sale of Harrisburg’s incinerator, lease of its parking system, renegotiated union contracts, the possible closure of a fire station and the hiring of a chief operating officer to run the city.
Formal objections to Unkovic’s plan were filed by Carlisle attorney Scott Wyland on behalf of Lower Paxton, Susquehanna, Swatara townships and Paxtang and Steelton boroughs.
The municipalities, all of which have at least some residents served by Harrisburg’s sewage treatment plant, seek the court’s permission to intervene in the case.