Home Rule in Harrisburg : Think Twice


As an innovative mayoral candidate, I know there’s much more that can be done besides home rule or a “kick the can down the road” Act 47 extension.

Home rule is a ruse guaranteed to tax and fee this city into a ghost town. A 70 percent real estate tax increase will turn the region into chaos through reverberation.

Our residents and businesses deserve better than that. They deserve to be prosperous, they deserve to be protected and, most importantly, they deserve to be respected.

The true path to recovery begins with saying what everybody knows to be true, and then boldly declaring it as my plan to keep Harrisburg in business for the next 100 years.

A market is driven by a consumer’s confidence (or lack of), and right now the consumer market is powerfully telling us the parking deal is a disaster.

The truth is that there is no way in the world the current parking deal will last 37 more years. The market will either collapse the deal, or collapse the city by imploding its economic-driving, core geography.

To back this up, a November 2016 Fitch Ratings report titled “Fitch Revises Outlook on PA Economic Development Financing Authority’s Parking Revs to Negative” calls this geography the “economically-important central business district of Pennsylvania’s capital.”

This same report, which indicates there is no positive outlook due to the ongoing disputes that further stresses cash flow, is preceded by three years of negative (confidence killer) headlines. These constant feuds are stunting our economic growth.

As your next mayor, I will say that it is my job to know this. I bet the state knows it, too. If I were the state, pondering a city back in receivership due to ineffective leadership, then I would be very smart and know that I couldn’t just tax the residents out of existence or force a charter change upon them.

dimly lit parking lot

Let’s get our parking back

Let’s think about this for a moment — you have S&P and Fitch Ratings downgrading a state-owned senior lien to negative, county officials sounding the alarm regarding a dwindling pot of money (capital reserves) to pay for upkeep and a powerful consumer force that claims the parking deal is killing the economy.

What happens to the junior liens that Dauphin County holds if the senior lien becomes non-investment-grade through further ratings reduction? It’s time to renegotiate and reacquire our parking by retiring these newly classified junk bonds and, frankly, I believe I’m the only candidate that has the negotiating ability to get it done.

Did you know that the current lease deal will cost over $850 million to pay for the $294 million over the course of 40 years? That’s a lot of earned interest flying out the door for all the players to sit back and not take action.

With me as your mayor, everyone will know that Harrisburg is still a strong player sitting at the table.

I’ve already developed negotiation scenarios. With the financial currents, it may actually be cheaper for Harrisburg to reacquire its assets than everybody thinks.

We can absolutely:

:: Get our parking back. It’s ours.
:: Lower parking rates.
:: Reduce annual debt payments.
:: Increase city revenues.
:: Have more people come back to the city.

No true entrepreneurial finance expert can look me in the eye and tell me this does not make sense, or that this is not the right time to get it done.

Think I can’t get this done? You can either watch me and a talented team work to get it done, or you can go with the strategically limited options offered to you by this administration.

We will restore our relationships throughout the land. We will rebrand our image by guarding our reputation. We will rebuild what the late and great Mr. Boyd called: “My great city!”

 

by Jennie Jenkins