The Honorable Jake CormanThe Honorable Vincent J. HughesApril 1, 2013Page TwoWhile Harrisburg shares the financial struggles of other Third Class Cities, it clearly hasunique burdens as the capital city of our Commonwealth. Nearly 49% of its properties are taxexempt due to the public and non-profit sectors. Nevertheless,
51% of the Bureau of Fire’s
operating budget is derived from taxes. These taxes are generated from a stressed economic base. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, over 29% of Harrisburg residents have incomes below the poverty line (compared to the national average of 13%), and almost 27% of familieshave incomes below the poverty line (compared to the national average of 9.9%). Only 65% of Harrisburg residents are in the labor force. Consequently, the financial resources upon which theCity can draw to fund its expenditures are quite limited.Further exacerbating the financial condition of the City is the fact that the Harrisburg
Bureau of Fire’s total
operating expenditures have significantly increased over the past threeyears. The Bureau of Fire exceeded its budget for 2011 by $1.2 million and by over $600,000for 2012. Salary expenditures
account for over 60% of the Fire Bureau’s budget. Overtime
costs, which are caused at least in part by the state, accounted for approximately 23% of the
Bureau’s 2010 actual expenditures and have steadily increased over the past five years.
I want to emphasize that this request is neither about seeking charity nor about helpingthe City of Harrisburg, but rather strives to fairly compensate the city for protecting dozens of state-owned buildings and thousands of state employees on a daily basis. It is aimed at thereality that half of Harrisburg is tax exempt and that the state-owned buildings in Harrisburgwould otherwise generate more than $6 million in tax revenues annually. Adding to this burden,the office buildings owned by the Commonwealth are filled with employees during the daylight
hours, swelling the City’s estimated population to over five times the evening population,
creating additional demands for City services. Grossly underfunding the City for providing these
essential services is exacerbating the City’s financial crisis.
Even if Harrisburg were not now in financial distress, there is no legitimate reasonfor a Third Class City to subsidize the Commonwealth for these services.
On behalf of the citizens of the capital city of our great Commonwealth, thank you inadvance for your consideration of this request. If I can provide additional information, please donot hesitate to contact me or Tyrone Powell of my staff.Sincerely,ROBERT F. TEPLITZState Senator