Council hires adviser to help Harrisburg lower debt

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday night to enter into a professional services contract with Marathon Capital Strategies to serve as the city’s financial adviser.

The firm will be paid on an hourly basis and it’s not to exceed $75,000 per year. Some residents expressed concerns after the city hired a lobbyist that it was not necessary to hire another outside professional services firm.

Councilman Ben Allatt serves as chairman of the Budget and Finance Committee. He says the city does not have a choice.

“This is actually required if we want to be able to negotiate with our bondholders,” Allatt said. “As part of the law we, can’t go in without the presence of a financial adviser.”

Mayor Eric Papenfuse says Marathon Capital Strategies will play a key role in helping the city recover financially.

“We think that we can save hundreds of thousands of dollars just by restructuring some of the debt we have on the books,” Papenfuse said. “We have a high-interest rate at 6.75 percent. If we can save a percentage point, we can save thousands over the term of the loan.”

Papenfuse says financial advisers have gotten the city in trouble over the years, but the council vetted the new firm and is comfortable with the choice.

The city will execute the contract by the end of the week.

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