Thursday, November 3, 2011

Incinerator burns through more than Harrisburg's waste


The waste incinerator in Pennsylvania's capitol has burned through more than just garbage over the past four decades. It´s also burned through money, the patience of residents and now the city´s solvency.

Earlier this month, Harrisburg became the first state capital in memory -- perhaps in history -- to declare bankruptcy, thanks to the $310 million debt that hangs over the Harrisburg Resource Recovery Facility.

The incinerator has been a money pit in Harrisburg since it was built in 1972, with the biggest chunk of investment coming when the city spent $125 million to rebuild the facility in 2003.

Finally, on Oct. 12, with $65 million of its debt due, the City Council voted to declare Chapter 9 bankruptcy instead of adopting a recovery plan developed by the state and Mayor Linda Thompson.

The decision has touched off a legal battle. The mayor refused to sign the declaration, calling it illegal, and a week later, the state enacted a takeover of the city´s finances. Gov. Tom Corbett is now able to declare a state of fiscal emergency and take money management responsibilities from the city. Under the law, the governor also can appoint a receiver to lead the fiscal recovery.

For the full story, see: WTE plant helps to bankrupt Harrisburg, Pa.
Photo credit: Jessica Kourkounis for the New York Times


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