Harrisburg to have first ‘true balanced budget’ since ’08

For the first time since 2008, Harrisburg projects it will have a true balanced budget by year’s end.

In April, an accounting error and bleak projections ballooned a deficit more than a million dollars.

Following a Harrisburg City Council meeting in late April, many members were upset to hear finance leaders discuss 2014 could be another struggle to make budgetary ends meet.

Mayor Eric Papenfuse said the city would endure a hiring freeze until at least June 1. The move left about 50 city positions vacant.

Since, the city has maintained a steady freeze while hiring a handful of vital positions and looking at jobs on a case-by-case basis.

A new class of police and fire recruits was not turned away and the city also hired a new engineer and assistant solicitor.

City finance leaders tell abc27 the slim hiring was integral in closing the looming budget gap and following a mid-year budget review, the projections show the revenues will at least match the expenditures by the time the strawberry drops.

Leaders explained the freeze helped stop the majority of the $57.5 million budget from melting out of control. Personnel, including health benefits, account for 62 percent of the general fund.

Eighteen percent of the fund goes toward city debt service and only 12 percent goes to non-personnel services, such as pothole repairs and infrastructure improvements.

The remaining eight percent of the budget pays Harrisburg’s bills such as utilities and insurance.

The mid-year budget review will be released to city council members on Friday. A public Budget and Finance Committee meeting will be held in September, but no date has been set.

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