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VIA HAND DELIVERY The Honorable Jake Corman Chair, Senate Appropriations Committee 281 Main Capitol Building Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17120-3034 The Honorable Vincent J. Hughes Democratic Chair, Senate Appropriations Committee 545 Main Capitol Building Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17120-3007 Dear Senators Corman and Hughes: On behalf of the citizens of the City of Harrisburg, I am submitting this request for the FY 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 receive more than $1.3 million in any single year for providing such services. Last year, the appropriation 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 $8.3 million, of which the portion attributable to the Capitol Complex is $4 million – or $1.5 million more than the state appropriation. A summary of the Fire Bureau’s budget for the past three years is as follows: 2013 Proposed Budget: 2012 Projected Budget: 2011 Actual Budget: $8,353,123.00 $8,724,632.00 $7,977,113.38
The Honorable Jake Corman The Honorable Vincent J. Hughes April 1, 2013 Page Two While Harrisburg shares the financial struggles of other Third Class Cities, it clearly has unique burdens as the capital city of our Commonwealth. Nearly 49% of its properties are tax exempt 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 families have 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 the City 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 three years. The Bureau of Fire exceeded its budget for 2011 by $1.2 million and by over $600,000 for 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 helping the 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 the reality that half of Harrisburg is tax exempt and that the state-owned buildings in Harrisburg would 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 reason for 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 in advance for your consideration of this request. If I can provide additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me or Tyrone Powell of my staff. Sincerely,
ROBERT F. TEPLITZ State Senator
The Honorable Jake Corman The Honorable Vincent J. Hughes April 1, 2013 Page Three cc: 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 President The Honorable Patty Kim The Honorable William B. Lynch, Receiver
Wills, Powell, Lepore, Mekilo