HARRISBURG—Right, wrong, illegal, immoral, are all words being used to describe the Chapter 9 bankruptcy filing by Harrisburg City Council. Council decided against the state's Act 47 plan and the follow up plans offered by Mayor Linda Thompson. Now, the U.S. District Court will take over the proceedings to see if bankruptcy is even an option.
So, what affect will these proceedings have on everyday life in Harrisburg? Besides listening to the infighting between City Council, the Mayor and state representatives, there won't be any drastic or immediate changes to the everyday life in the city. The budget process will move forward, while the bankruptcy and Act 47 dealings play out in the courts and in the General Assembly.
City council voted 4 to 3 in favor of Chapter 9 bankruptcy at a meeting on Tuesday. Council's attorney filed the paperwork in U.S. District Court on Wednesday. Since, the fighting between council, the mayor and the state has been intensifying.
Four members of City Council say Chapter 9 is the best option. The Mayor says bankruptcy is not an option and state representatives say the Chapter 9 filing is illegal under state law.
Matt Taylor of Taylor Retirement Services tells FOX43, bankruptcy may be a way for Harrisburg to balance its budget even with over $300 million in debt on the books.
"I don't think the city wants anything more than to have a discussion with the creditors on debt reduction and debt restructuring. They are using that as a leverage to force negotiations," Taylor said.
There was also talk on the municipal bond market that Harrisburg's bankruptcy filing could cause problems. There was little to no response to the filing on Wednesday. Experts say Harrisburg's troubles have been well-known for a while and most of the debt is insured. Most smart investors and firms have been staying away from buying any of Harrisburg's debt.
At this point, nothing noticeable will change for the residents of Harrisburg. The Chapter 9 filing protects the city from any action by the creditors who are owed the $310 million dollars in debt.
The process could take months, even years to settle.