Harrisburg, Pa – The use of pandemic relief funds is being disputed in Harrisburg where city council supports paying off city debt, and current Mayor Papenfuse has previously voiced his support of guaranteed universal income for residents.
Papenfuse now says that it would be best for the city to refinance its decades-old municipal debt.
Some of the federal pandemic relief money has already been received, according to Councilman Westburn Majors. He questioned the mayor’s use of COVID relief funds during the council meeting, saying, “We still have not had a conversation with the administration about use of some of the monies that have come in.” Harrisburg is expecting to receive just under $50 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds.
City Council President Wanda Williams, who is the Democrat nominee for mayor, spoke out at Tuesday night’s city council meeting condemning the financial practices of Papenfuse’s administration. She also pointedly clarified the recent reporting of theBurg regarding proposed debt financing legislation.
According to a published report, Republican mayoral nominee Rowbottom told The Epoch Times, “I agree with paying off the debt and not refinancing.”
Rowbottom called for a FOIA request to provide transparency regarding the use of Federal pandemic relief funds in Harrisburg and accountability for the debt repayment. “It needs to completely be made available to all city residents under the Freedom of Information Act concerning financial records.”
He also called into question the political motives of the mayor regarding the debt refinancing and suggested the plan was not beneficial to the city. “It would be in the best interests of the residents to be debt-free and to bring new accountability to the allocation of these funds.”
When reached for comment by Harrisburg100, Rowbottom suggested Papenfuse had an agenda for the debt refinancing plan, essentially to funnel money and contracts to his associates. He further alluded to potential charges of Racketeering.