HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – For the first time since each of them took office, Harrisburg Mayor Eric Papenfuse, Lancaster Mayor Rick Gray, and York Mayor Kim Bracey met as part of the regional chamber’s breakfast to talk about issues they face.
“The way we’ve set up municipal government in Pennsylvania is perfectly set up to fail,” Gray said. “The City of Lancaster pretty much has the same boundaries it had in the 1700’s.”
The three city leaders shared a desire to reduce the number of municipalities and school districts in the state. They also cited a need for pension reform.
“I agree with Mayor Gray that in Harrisburg, the cost of police and fire are more than our property taxes,” Papenfuse said. “We’re seeing significant increases on a yearly basis, especially with the cost of health care for our retired employees.”
“Mayor Bracey and I are regular visitors to Harrisburg on some type of pension reform,” Gray said. “We think the governor is about to propose a municipal pension reform.”
One of the topics that got the most attention was violent crime. Each mayor admitted it’s something that keeps them up at night.
“The senseless gun violence that we see,” Bracey said, “the inability to really address how guns are getting into our community, in the hands of minors.”
“We’re essentially sitting on a powder keg today with the amount of distrust that exists between the community and police,” Papenfuse added.
The mayors agreed there is a direct link between the success of their cities and the success of their school districts, but reiterated a push for a regionalized school district system.