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Letter seeking additional funding for Harrisburg's fire protection services

Letter seeking additional funding for Harrisburg's fire protection services

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Published by PennLive
Letter seeking additional $4 million in funding for Harrisburg's fire protection services
Letter seeking additional $4 million in funding for Harrisburg's fire protection services

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Published by: PennLive on May 30, 2013
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05/30/2013

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 April 1, 2013
VIA HAND DELIVERY
The Honorable Jake CormanChair, Senate Appropriations Committee281 Main Capitol BuildingHarrisburg, Pennsylvania 17120-3034The Honorable Vincent J. HughesDemocratic Chair, Senate Appropriations Committee545 Main Capitol BuildingHarrisburg, Pennsylvania 17120-3007Dear Senators Corman and Hughes:On behalf of the citizens of the City of Harrisburg, I am submitting this request for theFY 2013-14 state budget that the City receive an appropriation of $
4 million
to continue to provide emergency fire protection services to preserve and safeguard the over 40 state-owned buildings constituting the Capitol Complex, including the Capitol Building itself, one of the most beautiful capital buildings in the country.Historically, the Commonwealth has grossly underfunded the City of Harrisburg for  providing emergency fire protection services. From 2001 to 2012, Harrisburg did not receivemore than $1.3 million in any single year for providing such services. Last year, theappropriation was finally increased to $2.5 million, an amount maintained in
Gov. Corbett’s
 proposed FY 2013-14 budget. However, according to the 2013 proposed budget
for the City’s
Fire Bureau, the projected cost to provide emergency fire protection services for 2013 is
 
$8.3million, of which the portion attributable to the Capitol Complex is $4 million
 – 
or $1.5 millionmore than the state appropriation.
 
A summary of the Fire Bureau
’s
budget for the past three years is as follows:2013 Proposed Budget: $8,353,123.002012 Projected Budget: $8,724,632.002011 Actual Budget: $7,977,113.38
 
 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 
 
 The Honorable Jake CormanThe Honorable Vincent J. HughesApril 1, 2013Page Threecc: The Honorable Dominic Pileggi, Senate Majority Leader The Honorable Jay Costa, Jr., Senate Democratic Leader The Honorable Linda Thompson, Mayor The Honorable Wanda Williams, City Council PresidentThe Honorable Patty KimThe Honorable William B. Lynch, Receiver 

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