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Judge officially approves Harrisburg 'Strong Plan'

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Commonwealth Court Judge Bonnie B. Leadbetter today officially confirmed the Harrisburg “Strong Plan,” which moves to sell the city's incinerator and lease its parking system for 40 years, while providing budgetary relief to the capital city through 2016.

The judge held a hearing last Thursday on the plan.

"We still have a lot of different loose ends," said Jim Warner, CEO of the Lancaster County Solid Waste Management Authority, the entity buying the incinerator.

LCSWMA is expected to pay between $126 million and $132 million. The long-term lease of the parking system is expected to net between $258 million and $268 million through a public-private partnership.

These prices are listed as ranges because of movement on the municipal bond market.

Other than seeking debt ratings to begin the bond financing, LCSWMA has to finalize agreements tied to electricity administration.

Municipal authorities are prohibited from issuing tax-exempt bonds for electricity output, unless it is sold to a state or local government. As part of the deal, the Borough of Columbia will buy the steam output from the incinerator, then sell it to the commonwealth at a fixed price for the next 20 years.

Warner said some operating equipment will need to be purchased for the site. The authority also will hire at least five employees.

"In late October, we'll have an official statement out and we'll be actively marketing the debt," he said.

LCSWMA hopes to sell the debt around the first week of November, Warner said. He is expecting it to close by Nov. 18.

Contracts for certain site improvements — for example, perimeter enhancements — will be issued the first week the authority assumes operations, he said.

"We're doing as much in advance (as possible)," Warner said.

Another part of the plan includes extending the 1 percent additional earned income tax — which took the city's share to 1.5 percent while the school district receives 0.5 percent — through at least 2016.

Click here to read Leadbetter's full order.

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Jason Scott

Jason Scott

Jason Scott covers state government, real estate and construction, media and marketing, and Dauphin County. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at Follow him on Twitter, @JScottJournal. Circle Jason Scott on .

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